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Volume 387: debated on Wednesday 10 March 1943

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Sugar Industry


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what steps are being taken to safeguard the sugar industry in Trinidad owing to export and shipping difficulties; and whether land formerly used for sugar growing will be utilised for the cultivation of other crops?

Arrangements have been made in Trinidad, as elsewhere in the West Indies, whereby His Majesty's Government will take over and pay for all sugar produced, even if it cannot immediately be shipped, and will hold it in store locally. The Trinidad Government is endeavouring to secure the maximum possible extension of acreage under food crops for local consumption, but its efforts are seriously hampered by the shortage of labour, which is the primary cause of such diminution in the sugar crop as is taking place in that Colony.

Are we to understand that the shortage in this crop is due not to land going out of cultivation but to labour difficulties only?

The chief difficulty in Trinidad at the moment is whether there will be enough labour to reap the crop.

Is there not available labour in some of the other islands—for instance, Barbados?

That is another question. The hon. Gentleman will realise the very great difficulty of communication between these islands at present.

Commodity Prices


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether steps are being taken to control food prices in Trinidad; and whether there is any policy adopted to control at the point of origin the prices of food and other essential commodities imported by British Colonies?

The answer to the first part of the Question is in the affirmative. With regard to the second part of the Question, the Colonies are able to share the benefits of many of the co-ordinated purchase schemes of foodstuffs, etc., which have been the result of work of such agencies as the Combined Food Board in Washington. No generalisation is possible, since everything depends on the commodities concerned and the sources from which they must be drawn. I am, however, considering what action can be taken in regard to this problem as a whole.

Does the right hon. and gallant Gentleman realise the iniquity' of subsidising prices only to allow the benefit to be taken away from the people in the island by those who are able to put up the price?

The hon. Gentleman will realise that many of the sources from which these commodities have to be drawn are outside the control of this country.