HC Deb 15 April 1953 vol 514 cc185-7
22. Mr. G. Williams

asked the Minister of Food whether, in view of the fact that United Kingdom dollar expenditure on Cuban raw sugar is now 25 per cent. less than the dollar revenue obtained from Canada in respect of the British West Indian sugar which the former replaces, he will state what approximate dollar surplus results; and whether he will consider at an early opportunity using such surplus, or part of it, to increase purchases of sugar for Great Britain, thus enabling housewives to make better use of home-produced fruit crops and avoid unnecessary expenditure on imported substitutes for sugar.

The Minister of Food (Major Lloyd George)

Dollar earnings from sugar cannot be treated differently from dollar earnings generally. There is therefore no direct relation between dollars earned by the Commonwealth in Canada and the dollars that we can afford to spend in Cuba.

Mr. Williams

Is the Minister aware that the announcement yesterday gives me complete satisfaction, and that it will be appreciated by Socialists as well as Conservatives?

Mr. J. Paton

Can the Minister tell the House how many dollars are involved in the statement made yesterday by the Chancellor about the purchase of Cuban sugar?

Major Lloyd George

I shall be able to give a full statement later on.

Mr. Nabarro

Can my right hon. and gallant Friend give the House an assurance that yesterday's decision to purchase 1 million tons of dollar sugar will not in any way weaken the structure of the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement and that this country will continue to take every ton of available sugar from all parts of the British Commonwealth?

Major Lloyd George

That is written into the Commonwealth Agreement most plainly. It is the main purpose of the agreement to give a guarantee to Commonwealth producers that we shall take all the sugar they can produce.

Mr. Dalton

Cannot the right hon. and gallant Gentleman tell us in round figures how many dollars this Cuban sugar will cost?

Major Lloyd George

The right hon. Gentleman will appreciate that the actual figure depends to a large extent on details yet to be decided.

Mr. Manuel

Was the Minister not consulted?

Major Lloyd George

The hon. Gentleman should know that a great deal depends on the times at which shipments are made and so on, but I should say roughly from £22 million to £23 million over the two years.

36. Mr. Osborne

asked the Minister of Food how much extra sugar imports would now be required to end all sugar rationing; in what quantities it is available; what would be the cost; and how far it could be purchased in sterling.

Major Lloyd George

I would refer my hon. Friend to the announcement on sugar made yesterday by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Mr. Osborne

While I congratulate my right hon. and gallant Friend on the announcement made by the Chancellor yesterday, may I ask him why, instead of purchasing one million tons of sugar in Cuba, he did not purchase the two million tons that were available? Was it a shortage of dollars that caused him not to buy the lot?

Major Lloyd George

That happened to be what we wanted to enable us to take it off the ration.

Mrs. Mann

Can the Minister say what will be the retail price of this sugar which is bulk purchased from Cuba?

Major Lloyd George

No, I do not think I am able to do that, but I may be able to disappoint the hon. Lady when she finds out.

Mr. Nabarro

Is it not a fact that the purchase of any quantity of sugar above one million tons from Cuba or from other dollar sources would inevitably have had a detrimental effect on the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement; and will my right hon. and gallant Friend resist all temptations to go outside that Agreement unless it is strictly necessary?

Major Lloyd George

I can assure my hon. Friend that we cannot go outside the Agreement, which is quite specific, and that we have no intention whatever of trying to do so, because we regard the Sugar Agreement with the Commonwealth as one of the most important things we have done for many years.

Mr. Royle

Will the Minister say what is the price under the new arrangement with Cuba, as compared with the guaranteed price to the British West Indies?

Major Lloyd George

All I can say, without having the actual figures in my head, is that it is very much lower than the price to the British West Indies.

Hon. Members: How much lower?

Major Lloyd George

I would say that it is somewhere about £19 per ton lower.