HC Deb 26 May 1938 vol 336 cc1422-4W
Mr. Morgan

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has any information indicating the extent of the increase in the native population of the British West Indies during the past 10 years and the rate at which that increase is still continuing; and what steps he proposes to take to ensure that this increasing population will be absorbed into employment?

Mr. M. MacDonald:

No separate figures are available for the period in question, but the following table shows the estimated total population of the various West Indian Dependencies in 1926 and 1936, respectively, with the percentage increase:

Population of British West Indies.
Dependency. 1926. 1936. Increase.
Per cent.
Bahamas 58,101 66,219 13.97
Barbados 164,385 188,294 14.54
Jamaica 936,927 1,138,558 21.52
Turks and Caicos Islands 5,270 5,300 .57
Cayman Islands 5,600 6,700 19.64
Leeward Islands:
Antigua with Barbuda 29,648 34,230 15.45
Dominica 39,879 48,280 21.07
Montserrat 11,732 13,630 16.18
St. Christopher, Nevis and Anguilla 35,715 37,454 4.59
Virgin Islands 5,124 6,165 20.32
Trinidad and Tobago 387,470 448,253 15.69
Windward Islands:
Grenada 71,621 87,105 21.62
St. Lucia 55,698 66,230 21.62
St. Vincent 49,751 56,511 13.59

As regards the second part of the question, this increase in population coinciding with a period of depression in the prices of many of the agricultural products on which the Colonies rely has created a difficult problem, which is susceptible of no quick or general solution but is being actively examined by individual Governments in the light of local circumstances.

In certain Colonies practical steps have already been taken by the initiation of land settlement schemes or by a programme of public works, which, while primarily designed to effect much needed improvements in housing accommodation and road communications, will also afford considerable relief to unemployment. The hon. Member will, however, appreciate that the extent to which relief of this character can be afforded is necessarily conditioned by the financial resources of the Governments concerned.