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Imperial Preference (Jamaica)

Volume 154: debated on Tuesday 23 May 1922

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24.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that the Government of Jamaica has published in the West Indian and Canadian Press for general information his despatch of 9th March on the proposal to continue for 10 years the preference on goods at present entitled to preferential rates on importation into Great Britain; and whether the despatch will be laid before this Parliament forthwith, together with any replies that may have been received from Colonial Governors?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. The despatch in question was sent to the Colonial Governments with a view to publication, and it will be laid before the House as early as possible. A notification has been received from the Governments of Jamaica and Barbados that publication has taken place; but no other replies have yet been received.

Is it proposed to consult the House of Commons before committing future Governments—a change is expected—to a fiscal policy for ten years?

I certainly hold that the Government has not gone beyond what is usual in matters of this kind. It is desirable that the Colonies should have some assurance of a continuance of conditions.

Does the right hon. Gentleman think it is quite fair, because for the moment there is a tremendous Protectionist majority in the House, that they should bind future Governments for ten years?

The hon. and gallant Gentleman, who is to form a part of the Government of the future, will be perfectly free, of course, in this, as in other matters, to break faith with the Colonies.