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West Indies (Sugar Industry)

Volume 244: debated on Wednesday 12 November 1930

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asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the present position of employment and production in the West Indian cane-sugar industry; and how many contract labourers have been repatriated during the past six months at the expense of the Island Governments?

The hon. and gallant Member will appreciate that this matter cannot be dealt with fully within the limits of an oral reply. Briefly the position is that as yet unemployment is serious only in British Guiana, Antigua and St. Kitts, where it is being dealt with by means of relief works, which are already in progress. In British Guiana these works will probably attain a considerable scale and are estimated to cost £112,000 by 31st March next. Such information as is at present available indicates that, so far, the aggregate production of sugar has not been greatly curtailed. There is, however, no recent report from British Guiana, but one is expected shortly. No contract labourers have been repatriated to India during the past six months, and the Secretary of State is not aware that any have been repatriated to other destinations.

Seeing that the Secretary of State telegraphed specially in the middle of September to the Governors of the West Indies and British Guiana for a report on the subject, may we know whether a report has yet been received, and, if so, whether it will be published?

In view of the need for relief works in these islands, do the Government think it is a good investment to guarantee loans to Russia?