HC Deb 07 March 1951 vol 485 cc61-2W
84. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies why subsidies on rice and sugar in the Seychelles have been abolished, despite his assurance on 15th November last that the subsidies had been increased; what steps have been taken with regard to the subsidy on maize; and, in view of the hardship suffered by the increase in the price of rice from 60 to 67 cents. and sugar from 56 to 73 cents. per kilo, whether he will take steps to cause the Seychelles Government to restore the subsidies in order to alleviate the hardship.

Mr. Cook

The reasons for the abolition of these subsidies were that it was found that large quantities of subsidised sugar were being used for the manufacture of illicit liquor, and in the case of rice that large numbers of poor people were selling their coupons to their wealthier neighbours. Subsidies on coconut oil and maize remain; the estimated cost of these for 1951, £32,250, exceeds the total cost of all subsidies (including those for rice and sugar) during 1950. The effect of the abolition of subsidies on sugar and rice will be an increase in cost of about 9d. per month per person if these commodities are bought on the old ration scale.

To offset any hardship which may be caused, supplies of sugar cane from Government estates are being put on the market and sugar cane is being issued free to poor children in schools; arrangements are also being made to increase substantially supplies of maize so that poor people may be able to buy it in unlimited quantities. I am satisfied that the Government of Seychelles is keeping a careful watch on the position, and I am not prepared to intervene. The Officer Administering the Government is, however, being asked to see that special attention is paid to the effect of the removal of the subsidies on the nutrition of the poorer classes of the population.