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Volume 476: debated on Wednesday 28 June 1950

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asked the Minister of Food what is the estimated normal requirement of sugar for Great Britain; what proportion of this can be obtained at home; and to what extent the balance could be obtained from non-dollar Empire sources.

We estimate that about 2,550,000 tons of sugar a year would be needed to meet the normal demand, and that of this quantity an average of about 500,000 tons should be available from home sources. We hope eventually to be able to get nearly 90 per cent. of the balance from the Commonwealth under long-term agreements, but it will be several years before Commonwealth producers can achieve the considerable expansion needed to reach this figure.

Were the Commonwealth prepared to meet some of the balance from Commonwealth sources after 1952? If so, why has the right hon. Gentleman turned down the offer on the part of the West Indies.

There is not actually any offer. An arrangement was negotiated last year between the Dominions and the Colonies to reach this sort of target. We are now engaged in negotiations with the West Indies as to their share of the target, but I would rather not make any statement.

May we get the facts aright? Were the West Indies prepared to offer His Majesty's Government 85,000 tons of additional sugar, which His Majesty's Government have hitherto refused to accept?

I wish I had time to give the whole of the figures, but really that is quite wrong. The facts are these. We have undertaken to guarantee prices for 640,000 tons from 1953 for eight years onwards, and the rest up to 900,000 tons, at world prices plus preference. We feel that that is a reasonable arrangement.

As this is all very confusing, may I ask whether the Minister can make it clear that he will take all Empire sugar—that is, everything—until 1952, from whatever source?

Yes, Sir. At the moment we are taking all, and we could take more. I would make it clear to the House that at this moment the West Indies are not providing the sugar that they had contracted to deliver. That is our difficulty. We are discussing sugar which is not even grown, from 1953 onwards.