HC Deb 09 March 1955 vol 538 cc410-1
17. Mr. Russell

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is satisfied that the export from the United States of America of surplus farm produce and its processed products have no harmful effect on the sale of colonial produce; and if he will make a statement.

The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Alan Lennox-Boyd)

I assume that my hon. Friend is referring to the present programmes of disposals of United States farm produce under Public Laws 665 and 480 to a number of countries. The United States authorities have given assurances that their exports under these programmes will not impair the traditional competitive position of friendly countries. Her Majesty's Government, while welcoming this assurance, have been and continue to be vigilant in their scrutiny of the programmes so as to ensure as far as they can that the programmes are carried out without prejudice to the interests of the Colonies.

Mr. Russell

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. Can he say whether a great deal of United States produce competes, from a seasonal point of view, with that of the West Indies?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

A certain amount does, but the only products in respect of which concern has been expressed to us are citrus products and soft oils. I can assure my hon. Friend that we shall watch the position very carefully.

Mr. Bottomley

The policy of Her Majesty's Government has already damaged the economy of the United Kingdom. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his policy is also damaging the economy of the Colonies? Will not he again consider my suggestion that long-term trade agreements negotiated with the Colonies are the best means of developing trade between them and the United Kingdom?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I can accept neither of the simple summaries of the right hon. Gentleman.

Mr. J. Hynd

May I ask how the right hon. Gentleman interprets the interests of the Colonies in his first answer? Does he interpret them in terms of the standard of living of the native population, or merely in terms of the interests of the local traders?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

Of course not. I am not one of those who think that the interests of the traders are opposed to those of the people among whom they trade. Our duty is to see that as far as possible there is a profitable market in the United Kingdom for the primary products of British Colonial Territories.