HC Deb 14 December 1955 vol 547 cc176-8W
42. Lady Tweedsmuir

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what progress has been made in restoring the economies of Grenada, Barbados and British Honduras after the hurricane Janet.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

The House will be glad to learn that very good progress has already been made.

In Grenada (including Carriacou) which has by far the biggest problem, complete restoration of the economy will take a long time, but a beginning has been made.

As I said in my statement on 26th October, fertilisers were shipped urgently to Grenada to help restore the soil; these have arrived and are being distributed and applied. Planting material for food and short-term export crops has been obtained and is now being planted out. Under legislation enacted early in November loans are available to enable agriculturists to clear their land, repair their buildings and re-equip themselves in the initial stages of rehabilitation.

Expert recommendations for the long-term rehabilitation of the islands' agriculture have been received and are now under detailed consideration.

Some thousands of houses nave already been repaired with Government assistance. A full plan to replace houses destroyed or too severely damaged to be repairable has been prepared and is now under detailed consideration. Communications and water supplies have already been mainly restored and many public buildings repaired, and work is going ahead rapidly.

All these aspects of rehabilitation work involve very considerable expenditure and hon. Members will be glad to know that Mr. C. M. Deverell, the Governor of the Windward Islands, together with his Financial and Economic Adviser, is in London this week for discussions with representatives of Her Majesty's Government about the financial assistance from Her Majesty's Government which will be needed to enable Grenada's economy to be fully restored as soon as possible.

The economy of Barbados did not suffer to the same extent. Indeed the sugar crop should be better than average. Heavy losses to the fishing fleet have almost been made good. The damage in Barbados was largely to personal property and I am glad to say that great progress has been made in re-housing the homeless. Nine thousand houses have been repaired at Government expense and about 400 new strong wooden houses have already been erected. About 5,000 damaged houses have still to be dealt with.

In British Honduras damage was confined mainly to the neighbourhood of Corozal. A large part of the agriculture is sugar, which is fortunately a comparatively resilient crop. Immediate plans for rehabilitation of agriculture, including sugar cane, coconut, livestock, etc., have been put in hand in order to take advantage of the present planting season and get farmers back on a normal cash economy. Fruit-tree nurseries have been established and budded citrus and seeds are being distributed. By the end of November a number of villages had temporary communal farms cleared for planting. The sugar factory is being repaired and should be ready by the end of January to deal with the new crop.

The repair and rebuilding of private dwellings is being carried out under a system of aided self-help: the Public Works Department is helping and free materials have been issued for rebuilding. A new pier has been built at Corozal and the ferry at Santa Elena has been reopened.