HC Deb 15 November 1934 vol 293 cc2166-8W

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the threat to introduce prohibitive tariffs on Colonial products recently conveyed to the Tanganyika Cordage Company has been put into effect; what were the circumstances under which this threat was made; and, if withdrawn, what were the circumstances which led to its withdrawal?


The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative. The circumstances in which this matter arose are as follow: In August, strong representations were made to the Government by representatives of the Rope, Twine and Net Manufacturers' Federation to the effect that their home market in the United Kingdom was being menaced by the sale here by the Tanganyika Cordage Company of binder twine produced by low-paid African labour in Tanganyika. These representations carried the more weight by reason of the fact that the rope manufacturers in this country have agreed to co-operate with sisal producers in East Africa by using increased quantities of sisal in their manufactures. It is obviously an essential interest of the sisal producers to retain a market in the United Kingdom which will be not only secure but expanding. The retention of such a market would, however, manifestly be jeopardised if the manufacturers in this country who had undertaken to cooperate with the sisal producers were to be exposed to severe competition on the United Kingdom market by sisal manufactures produced in a sisal producing country. Consequently I came to the conclusion that, in the interests of the sisal producers themselves, there was no alternative but to inform the Tanganyika Cordage Company that, failing an agreement between them and the federation, I should not be able to oppose the imposi- tion of a prohibitive duty on binder twine imported to this country from the Colonial Dependencies.

In the reply which I gave on 14th November to my hon. Friend the Member for Nuneaton (Mr. North) I emphasised that, in my view, these rare cases of a conflict of interest between manufacturers in this country and Colonial interests were eminently matters which should be susceptible of satisfactory agreements between the parties concerned. In this particular case, the Colonial Office kept in touch with both sides, and on 10th October an invitation was issued to the federation and the company to meet at the Colonial Office to discuss the position. This meeting was, however, rendered unnecessary because it was reported to the Colonial Office by the Commissioner of His Majesty's East African Trade and Information Office that an agreement between the parties had been reached after discussion at his office. It was to this agreement that I referred in the answers which I gave to questions put by my hon. Friend on 14th November. Some qualification is, however, necessary to the words an agreement completely satisfactory to the particular undertaking in Tanganyika and the consumers here, since I understand that there may be some practical difficulty in giving effect to the general agreement as reported to me. I trust that any such difficulties will be settled by discussion between the parties concerned which, I understand, is the course that is being followed.


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the British Government, under the Colonial Development Act, proposes to give financial assistance to establishing the paper-pulp industry in Kenya; and whether, in view of the recent difficulties which have arisen in connection with the importation of Tanganyika twine and cordage manufactures into this country, he will first define the attitude of the British Government towards manufactures in the Colonies produced by coloured labour and imported into this country?


An application for financial assistance from the Colonial Development Fund towards the establishment of a bamboo-pulp factory in Kenya is still under consideration by the Colonial Development Advisory Committee. As regards the second part of the question, I would refer my hon. Friend to my reply to the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. North) on the 14th instant.