§ Mr. Wootton-Davies
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what food has been bought by the British Government in our Colonies during the war and subsequently destroyed; what was its cash value; and whether the practice has now been stopped.
§ Colonel Stanley
His Majesty's Government have during the war made certain purchases of food in the Colonies, either under obligations already entered into or in order to prevent serious distress amongst Colonial producers, in quantities exceeding what it was possible in the conditions at the time to ship; and after making full use of local storage and the possibilities of local utilisation, we have been obliged to authorise the destruction of this surplus. There is at the moment no necessity for action of this kind to be taken to dispose of any surplus food products in the Colonies, and I hope that circumstances will not again oblige us to have resort to destruction.
Action of this kind has been necessary in the case of West African cocoa and Jamaica bananas; in addition, His Majesty's Government have financed in Fiji and British Guiana the purchase of sugar cane and its disposal at periods when the prospects of shipping would have made it wasteful to manufacture the cane into sugar. Details of the quantities involved and costs are as follows:
Commodity. Colony. Period. Quantity. Cost. Cocoa … West Africa … 1939/40–1942/43 crops 21,072 tons £2,917,132 Sugar … Fiji … 1941 crop. Sugar cane equivalent to: 39,544 tons of sugar £248,468 British Guiana … 1943 crop. Sugar cane equivalent to: 33,308 tons of sugar £242,870
As regards Jamaica bananas, the total quantity purchased but not exported during the period from 9th November, 1940, to 30th October, 1943, was approximately 15,500,000 count bunches. A large part of this was disposed of by local sale or free distribution, but precise figures are not available of the balance which was required to be destroyed.