HC Deb 30 September 1942 vol 383 cc793-4W
Mr. David Adams

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has a statement to make as to the food and employment situation in Jamaica; and whether he is satisfied that all remedial steps are being taken and that adequate police provision has been made to prevent a recurrence of rioting and other lawless activities in the island?

Mr. Harold Macmillan

My Noble Friend has received the following report from the Governor of Jamaica on these subjectsThe food situation in Jamaica, is well in hand. Local production has been largely increased and the increase is still proceeding. Results are being achieved by unlimited guarantees by the Government Marketing Department of purchase at fixed minimum prices and by steady propaganda and instruction. For large land owners (i.e., over 100 acres) percentage of planting of unused land in food crops is compulsory. The Jamaica Government aims at considerable substitution of local products for imported food and at building up a reserve against destruction to crops which a hurricane must cause. This takes time, and if the Government plans are fully successful and no hurricane is experienced next year, an excess of certain local products must result. Cultivators, however, will be guarded by Government Marketing Department guarantee to buy at fixed remunerative minimum to any amount offered. The food habits of the people cannot be changed over-night, and therefore in the present shipping circumstances occasional shortage of perishable imports such as flour must be faced. Up to date such shortage has been sufficiently made up by local production such as breadfruit which have been in plentiful supply. The Governor is satisfied that all possible steps are being taken to ease the unemployment situation in Jamaica. Side by side with the institution of agricultural centres all over the Island and the practical encouragement being given to the peasants to occupy and to stay on the land, engineering schemes of permanent value, and selected for the high percentage of labour involved, are being initiated. Financial support given to the banana and citrus industries also assists to maintain employment therein. At this time of the year a certain amount of seasonal unemployment has for a long time prevailed, and the inevitable war restrictions on trade, drastic reduction of oil supplies and shipping difficulties have aggravated it. Organised distribution of cheap and free bananas, despite difficulties of transport due to shortage of fuel oil for trucks and coal for the railway, has now. virtually eliminated waste, and all possible remedial measures are being taken. Adequate police provision has been made for the maintenance of law and order.