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British Honduras (Banana Exports)

Volume 497: debated on Wednesday 19 March 1952

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what steps have been taken to increase the export of bananas from British Honduras to Canada.

I am consulting the Governor and will write to my hon. Friend when I have had his reply.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is a very ready market in Canada for greatly increased imports of bananas, and would he not agree that it would be much wiser to spend the British taxpayers' money in developing this market than on abortive attempts to raise beef cattle in an unsuitable country?

There are serious marketing and shipping difficulties relating to the Canadian market which are now being investigated. I am not entirely hopeful about the result.

When the right hon. Gentleman is consulting the Governor on the export of this particular commodity to Canada, will he also inquire whether British vessels can be employed in this trade, and look into the whole question of the employment of British tonnage to and from the West Indies?

I can certainly give the right hon. Gentleman that assurance. At the present moment we are examining the whole marketing and shipping question relating to this export trade, and the question which the right hon. Gentleman raises about the use of British bottoms in this trade will, of course, form part of that investigation.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this is a very important matter affecting British shipping and the commercial development of that particular area, and that one of the reasons that is given for the failure to develop that area is the lack of British shipping facilities?

I have already given the right hon. Gentleman an assurance that the matter is being looked into, and I think that he has performed a public service in raising the matter again.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the late Government were repeatedly pressed about this matter and did nothing about it?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that no British shipping firm would put forward any proposal for developing this shipping trade without a very heavy subsidy?