HC Deb 11 February 1964 vol 689 cc189-90
4. Mr. Brockway

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is aware that a White Paper was laid in the British Guiana Legislature on 27th January, taking issue with his statement at the Constitutional Conference that British Guiana was insolvent; if he is satisfied that no change will be necessary in his announced plans for British Guiana; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Sandys

My statement was in accord with the assessment of Ministers of the British Guiana Government who informed the Colonial Office in October that they expected there would be a deficit on their recurrent budget for both the calendar years 1963 and 1964, and that they would probably need to ask the British Government for assistance in bridging the gap.

This information confirmed a separate assessment by an independent expert who was asked to report upon the financial situation in British Guiana.

However, in December the British Guiana Government found that owing to a shortfall in planned expenditure the expected deficit had not materialised. At the same time, the British Guiana Government have revised, in an upward direction, their previous estimate of revenue receipts for 1964. This has enabled them to present a balanced budget. It now also seems likely that the strain on British Guiana's resources in 1964 will be somewhat eased by the fact that their development programme has also fallen behind schedule.

This slight improvement in the Budgetary position does not of course affect our general plans for British Guiana.

Mr. Brockway

Does the right hon. Gentleman really insist that it is only a slight improvement? Is it not regrettable that a statement should have been made which will affect the investment situation in British Guiana, and cannot the right hon. Gentleman now correct this in a generous way so as to increase the possibilities of investment in the territory? Also, may I ask him to answer the second part of my Question about whether a change will be neces sary in the announced plans for British Guiana?

Mr. Sandys

If the hon. Gentleman will look at my reply, he will see that I did answer the second part of his Question. The statement I made was, as I have already explained to the House, based on in formation given by Dr. Jagan and by his Finance Minister, and corroborated by an independent expert—

Mr. Brockway

Mr. Jacobs?

Mr. Sandys

Yes, Mr. Jacobs. My statement at the conference was not challenged at the time by any of the Ministers of other representatives from British Guiana. What I have tried to do is to give the House the plain facts. It is not for me to make propaganda for investment, or to try to discourage people front investing. People must judge from the facts.

Miss Vickers

Is it not a fact that the Estimates were cut by over 5 million dollars and certain posts have not been filled, which has helped to make the situation easier at the present time, and that is the reason why the Government's predictions were rather different from what happened?

Mr. Sandys

As I said, expenditure did not cone up to what had been planned.

Forward to