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West Africa (Cocoa Marketing Boards)

Volume 476: debated on Wednesday 28 June 1950

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the present total of accumulated funds with the West African cocoa marketing boards.

For the latest available figures I would refer the hon. Member to the annual reports of the Gold Coast and Nigeria Cocoa Marketing Boards for the year 1948–49.

Assuming that these figures are extremely large, would the Minister tell the House what it is proposed to do with this enormous surplus?

That is a matter for the Board, but I would point out that had the Board made a loss, we would, no doubt, have been criticised, and therefore the fact that there is this surplus cannot be open equally to criticism?

Would the Minister say what the figure is today? The figure to which he referred did not take into account the very large quantities of cocoa sold since at steeply rising prices. Is it not a fact that the total available is nearly £70 million, and is not being used for the essential work of replacing the cocoa which has been very heavily attacked by disease?

It is used both for the development of the industry and also for the stabilisation of prices.

On a point of order. Would you, Mr. Speaker, explain whether we can ask questions regarding detailed administration of these boards? I was given to understand that we could not ask more than a very general question about any of these boards. If that is so, how can the Minister be asked a series of questions about these boards?

I did not quite gather what was the point of order which the hon. Member was asking.

I want to know to what extent we can ask detailed questions regarding these various boards. This is one, and the Overseas Marketing Board is another. To what extent can we ask a series of questions about these boards?

As I do not quite understand the point of the question, I should like to have notice of it.