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West Indies (Sugar Workers' Welfare)

Volume 486: debated on Wednesday 18 April 1951

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what sums of money out of the price paid by His Majesty's Government for West Indian sugar since the recent negotiations has been set aside for the Labour Welfare Fund; and for what purposes this money has been expended in the different West Indian territories.

As a result of consultations in 1947 it was decided that three reserve funds, of which the Labour Welfare Fund is one, should be set up in each of the Colonies concerned. Payments at the following rates are being made at present under local legislation into Welfare Funds for sugar workers:

  • Antigua, St. Lucia, British Guiana, Trinidad—10s. per ton of sugar exported.
  • St. Kitts—20s. per ton of sugar exported.
  • Jamaica—5s. per ton of sugar exported.
  • Barbados—9s. 10d. per ton of sugar produced.
Expenditure from these funds is being directed to the following purposes:

Antigua. Thirty-three cottages have been built for sugar workers, and loans totalling £36,000 have been issued to other workers for erecting their own houses.

St. Kitts. The Fund Committee has decided to concentrate on rural housing for sugar workers. £4,800 is being spent for building experimental houses, £1,458 for sanitary latrines in individual houses, and £250 has been loaned for lighters to transport sugar-cane from Nevis to St. Kitts.

St. Lucia. A scheme for malaria control in sugar areas has been implemented.

British Guiana. Expenditure has been sanctioned for the development of 24 areas for rehousing workers on sugar estates, and for the sinking of artesian wells to supply pure water. Loans are being made to workers for building their own houses. Part of the cost for training 12 persons for social welfare work on sugar estates is also being met from the Fund.

Jamaica. The erection of 17 medical clinics has been approved, nine of which have been completed, and extensions have been made to four existing clinics. Eight ambulances have been bought and two more have been ordered. Nine resident nurses have been appointed. Dentists have been provided for eight clinics. Water supplies and electric light have been provided for estates and community centres. Grants have been made for projectors and for a mobile film unit for educational and recreational purposes in sugar areas. Grants have been made to sugar estates to meet part of the cost of constructing cottages for the workers.

Trinidad. No disbursements have been made from the Fund; but it is intended to use it to make loans to sugar workers for the erection of houses, and to assist in the promotion of social services.

Barbados. Loans are made to sugar workers for erecting or repairing houses. Playing fields and community halls have been constructed.

The sugar price is negotiated annually by the Ministry of Food with all Commonwealth producers. The 1951 price is £32 17s. 6d. a ton. The 1950 price was £30 10s. a ton.