HC Deb 26 October 1955 vol 545 cc163-4
1 and 2. Miss Lee

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies (1) the cost in interest rates paid by the arrowroot growers of St. Vincent, on an estimated crop of 1,250,000 West Indian dollars;

(2) how long St. Vincent arrowroot growers wait before being completely paid off for the delivery of arrowroot.

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

The St. Vincent Co-operative Arrowroot Association, which takes delivery of, and prepares for shipment, all starch produced, makes a substantial advance payment on delivery. This takes place over the period November to June. The Association makes a further interim payment in the following December, bringing the total paid up to about 90 per cent. of the estimated full value, and a final payment the following June when the outturn is known.

The Association borrows money to provide itself with working capital, and nearly all individual growers, depending on their circumstances, also borrow as necessary in anticipation of deferred payments by the Association. Interest payments by the Association are passed on to growers and these, together with interest payments by the growers themselves, are estimated to total about 60,000 dollars on an estimated crop of 1,250,000 dollars.

Miss Lee

Will the Minister carefully consider the answer which he has just given? Is he aware that some of the smaller growers in particular find it difficult to do without their money and feel that they need to get their money paid more punctually and on shorter terms and should not have to pay so much in interest?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I will gladly at all times consult the hon. Lady or anybody else on any difficulties that may arise. I have looked most carefully into this matter. I believe this is the best system, and with the setting up of the new Government central factory, which will open in November, the situation ought to improve. If the hon. Lady would like to discuss the matter with me, I will gladly tell her all I know.