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Grenada (Nutmeg Association)

Volume 467: debated on Wednesday 13 July 1949

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4, 5 and 6.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies (1) if he is aware that the Grenada Co-operative Nutmeg Association had, on or about 12th June, 1949, stocks of 50,000 bags of 200 lb. each of nutmegs on hand, which they were unable to sell; and if he will take the necessary steps to bring to an end the totalitarian and monopolistic policy of the Grenada Co-operative Nutmeg Association and allow a voluntary association to deal with nutmeg production and distribution;

(2) if he is aware that the delay in coming to a decision as to whether there should be a voluntary or compulsory nutmeg association in Grenada is causing great dissatisfaction and that estate labourers can only get two days' work a week; and if he will take immediate steps for a voluntary nutmeg association to operate and be free to sell their produce in the open market, particulars of which have been sent him;

(3) if he is aware that the Nutmeg Association of Grenada is running on borrowed money and has already spent over £200,000 in two years saved by the growers; and to what extent the British taxpayer is involved and is liable.

I do not agree with the hon. Member's description of the Association, and I fear that he has been misinformed as to the facts. The Association does not run on borrowed money, but has a credit balance, while its stocks are only a fraction of the figure he mentioned. There is no evidence that its formation has caused under-employment. Its future is being considered by the local Legislature. The United Kingdom taxpayer has no liability for its affairs.

As the Under-Secretary has answered my three Questions together, may I be permitted to ask three supplementary questions? In view of the information contained in his answer to Question No. 4, may I ask the hon. Gentleman whether the recent journey of the Minister of Food to Kongwa was really necessary? Second, would he explain why the British Government interfere in the affairs of the British West Indies, especially in an industry which can only run successfully if it is free; and, third, on Question No. 6, is not this further evidence of the dead hand of State control?

The future of this Association is in the hands of the local Legislature.