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West Africa (Cocoa)

Volume 344: debated on Wednesday 1 March 1939

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware of the anxiety among West African cocoa farmers at the fact that the buyers' pool, though suspended, is not cancelled, and that the recommendations of the recent commission have not yet been implemented; and what steps he is taking to meet this anxiety?

I have received no representations of the nature referred to. Though the buyers' agreement is suspended, I understand that there is no intention that it should be resumed. As regards action on the recommendations of the commission, I am not yet in a position to add anything to my recent answers.

May I take it from that answer that the right hon. Gentleman now states definitely that the pool is not to be re-established?

That is my understanding of the position, although I, of course, am not responsible for any decision in this matter.

Could the right hon. Gentleman take steps to encourage the farmers in West Africa to believe that the pool will not be re-established?

Have not representations been made for several months on this matter, and have I not asked several questions about it and been told that the matter was receiving immediate attention? When could we put a question down that might result in some informative answer?

I have given an account of the progress that has been made up to date. We have already received interim reports from the Governors concerned, and in the Gold Coast a special local committee has been established to go into these recommendations more fully. We must await the final reports from the Governors concerned before we reach a decision on this matter, but I assure the hon. Gentleman that this very complicated and important matter is being considered on the spot as rapidly as may be.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that meanwhile an immense amount of harm is being done to the textile trade, and that the sooner we can get to the implementation of these recommendations the better for this country?

I fully appreciate the importance of this matter to the textile trade, and I have been glad to give answers recently to show that there is some improvement already in this respect. If there is anything further we can do to expedite the matter we shall be glad to do it.