HC Deb 13 April 1965 vol 710 cc1146-7
15. Mr. Alison

asked the Minister of Overseas Development if she will take steps on a Government-to-Government basis which will assist cocoa producers in Ghana and elsewhere affected by the slump in commodity prices.

Mrs. Castle

Although I feel great sympathy with the cocoa producers, I have, so far as my own responsibilities are concerned, no proposals to make at present.

Mr. Alison

I thank the right hon. Lady for the sympathy that she has expressed, but may I suggest a proposal which she might consider under the circumstances, namely, the abolition of the 15 per cent. Purchase Tax on chocolates? Is she aware that the import of cocoa beans has been falling steadily, and that it is quite indefensible to finance our Budget deficit at the expense of Ghana?

Mrs. Castle

That is not a question for me, but for the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Mr. Longbottom

Has the right hon. Lady had any discussions with any of her colleagues about instituting a plan in consultation with other countries, to have an international commodity agreement on cocoa?

Mrs. Castle

That is a matter for other Ministers, who are currently considering it.

Mr. Dell

Is my right hon. Friend aware that these matters are currently being considered in New York by the United Nations Trade and Development Board and by a council which was set up under that Board? Will she assure us that its efforts to stabilise commodity prices will have the full support of the Government?

Mrs. Castle

I must repeat that that is a matter for other Ministers.