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Sugar Negotiations

Volume 476: debated on Wednesday 28 June 1950

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is aware of the growing concern in the West Indies at the delay in concluding the sugar negotiations with the West Indian delegation in London; and if he will make a statement on the subject.

I am not aware of any undue delay. Until the discussions are ended, both my right hon. Friend and my right hon. Friend the Minister of Food would prefer not to make any statement.

Would the right hon. Gentleman care to study the West Indian newspapers, which will give him some idea of the strength of feeling on the matter? Does he realise the serious political repercussions that might arise out of the failure of the Government to meet these demands?

That is another question. The original Question dealt with the delay, but we think it is more important that there should be a satisfactory conclusion to the negotiations than that they should perhaps take a little longer.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the delays and reserves with which this matter has been treated will more than outweigh any benefits that might be gained by the adverse political and economic consequences in the Colonies? Does he realise that the Government are playing straight into the hands of hostile elements in the West Indies?

No, Sir. I realise that the conditions in the West Indies are considerably better than they ever were under the Opposition before the war.

Will my right hon. Friend take all necessary steps to resist this pressure on the authorities in this country to accept inferior trading conditions for the future supply of sugar?

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether his Ministry has seen this delegation when the Ministry of Food were unrepresented?

No, Sir. The negotiations are not completed, so it is impossible to give a definite date.