§ 42. Mr. David Adams
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, whether he is aware of the public protests of Jamaican producers at the low prices paid by overseas agencies for their exportable products whilst imported goods are at greatly enhanced prices; and whether he will examine the causes of low prices for exported produce in view of higher world prices and the complaints of importer salesmen that they are not fully consulted by the food controller, who is the sole importer and exporter for the island?
§ Colonel Stanley
I am aware of the problems presented by the rise in cost of Jamaica's essential imports, and this consideration is taken fully into account in negotiating the prices at which Jamaica's exports shall be bought. The prices now paid for Jamaica's exports represent on 1912 the whole considerable advances over pre-war prices, and in addition producers have in respect of many of them complete security in regard to purchase. As my hon. Friend will be aware, the banana industry, which is the most important industry in Jamaica, is supported in the total absence of export markets by a purchase scheme financed by His Majesty's Government. The prices paid for bananas under this scheme are determined in consultation with the Government of Jamaica. In addition, steps have been taken, by subsidisation of essential imports, to offset the effect of their increased cost, and the cost of this subsidisation will be met as required by further financial assistance by His Majesty's Government. In present circumstances, resort must necessarily be had in certain cases to bulk purchase of imported requirements on Government account, and while it is appreciated that such a course must necessarily be unwelcome to the private importers, I have no reason to believe that all possible steps are not being taken to protect their legitimate interests.
§ Colonel Stanley
If there is any particular case that the hon. Member would like to discuss with me, I shall be glad to do so, but I have looked at the prices, and in many cases they are substantially higher than pre-war.