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Cocoa (Produce Board's Surplus)

Volume 437: debated on Wednesday 7 May 1947

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12.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is his estimate of the surplus funds of the West African Produce Board at the end of this season; and whether he intends to increase the price paid to African producers of cocoa or to reduce the price charged to manufacturers.

I estimate that the surplus funds which will accrue from the current crop are likely to exceed £10,000,000. The producers' price is fixed for the present season, which will shortly be completed. The determination of next season's producer price will be a matter for the new cocoa boards in West Africa. The price charged by the board to buyers of British West Africa cocoas is determined in the free market.

The first part of my Question was not intended to ask about the surplus of this season's working, but what the total surplus would be at the end of the season. Can the right hon. Gentleman give us that figure?

I cannot be too accurate, but I imagine that it will be in the neighbourhood of, probably, £22 million.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what he proposes to do with that £22 million?

In view of this large surplus, can the Minister say why the price has been put up to home manufacturers?

I think that this House is entitled to know what the Government propose to do with this huge surplus which has been obtained at the cost of either the producers or the consumers.

The answer has appeared in a White Paper which has had very considerable publicity in the Press, and which has frequently been noted in this House.

If that is so, is there any objection to the right hon. Gentleman saying, briefly, what it is?

It is another question, and I am not anxious to exhaust the patience of the House.