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Sierra Leone (Scrap Iron Exports)

Volume 524: debated on Wednesday 3 March 1954

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies the reason for the refusal of an export licence to Messrs. A. A. Abokie and Company, who wished to export scrap iron from Sierra Leone.

Exports of scrap from Sierra Leone are strictly controlled because there have been serious outbreaks of theft of scrap lately in the territory and also to prevent scrap reaching undesirable destinations. Messrs. Abokie and Co. applied for a licence to export scrap to a number of alternative destinations including Soviet satellite countries.

Is the Minister aware that when Messrs. Abokie attempted to export scrap at the European price to Western Germany, the local agents of the British Iron and Steel Federation first tried to bully them into accepting a much lower price, and then boasted that they would prevent them getting an export licence? Is not this a scandalous way of exploiting Sierra Leone to get British scrap cheaper than the European price?

My right hon. Friend has no evidence of that, and in any event Her Majesty's Government obviously cannot be responsible for the actions of the agent of the iron and steel industry's purchasing arrangements.

In view of the facts set out in the letter which I have sent to his right hon. Friend, does not the hon. and learned Gentleman think that this agent is an undesirable person to have in Sierra Leone?