Oral Answers to Questions — Crown Lands (Trinidad and Tobago).

– in the House of Commons on 4th June 1919.

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Photo of Mr Benjamin Spoor Mr Benjamin Spoor , Bishop Auckland

43.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether it is the policy of His Majesty's Government to discourage settlement on Crown lands in Trinidad and Tobago; whether this policy has been adopted to secure a supply of cheap labour for the planters; and whether there are hundreds of thousands of acres of arable land still uncultivated in that Colony?

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery , Birmingham Sparkbrook

I understand that settlement on the Crown lands has been to some extent retarded in the past by the difficulties inherent in combining oil development with agricultural settlement, but under arrangements which have now been made I believe the Colonial Government will be able to overcome those difficulties. There is, of course, no intention of discouraging agricultural settlement, the importance of which to the Colony is fully recognised. A scheme has been initiated under which free grants of land will be made to returned Trinidad soldiers and several fertile blocks of Crown land have been reserved for this purpose. There are estimated to be some 900,000 acres of uncultivated land in the Colony, but I have no figures to show how much of this may be arable land.

Photo of Mr Benjamin Spoor Mr Benjamin Spoor , Bishop Auckland

44.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has received a petition from the Trinidad Working Men's Association praying for the grant to Trinidad of a democratic constitution, including the grant of the franchise to all male British subjects over the age of twenty-one who are able to read and write English, and the election of the Legislative Council by popular vote; and whether it is proposed to take any steps in this direction?

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery , Birmingham Sparkbrook

The Secretary of State has received the petition to which the hon. Member refers, but he is informed by the Governor that the Trinidad Working Men's Association has no claim to represent any considerable section of the working classes of the Colony. It is not proposed to take action in the matter.

Photo of Mr Benjamin Spoor Mr Benjamin Spoor , Bishop Auckland

Is it not a fact that these men are simply asking for the same conditions as obtain in the French West Indies?

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery , Birmingham Sparkbrook

I should like to have notice of that.

Photo of Colonel Josiah Wedgwood Colonel Josiah Wedgwood , Newcastle-under-Lyme

Is it the Trinidad Working Men's Association who pressed for that legislation dealing with habitual idlers in these Colonies?