Food Prices.

Oral Answers to Questions — West Indies. – in the House of Commons on 24th June 1942.

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Photo of Mr Reginald Sorensen Mr Reginald Sorensen , Leyton West

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that the Trinidad legislature has rejected a motion to subsidise imported foods for the poorer classes; the result of Government consideration of means of maintaining and, where possible, reducting price levels; and what action has been taken in the West Indian Colonies either to subsidise foodstuffs or secure reasonable price levels for the benefit of the Native population?

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Stockton-on-Tees

The Answer to the first part of the Question is in the negative. On 27th April, the Legislative Council of Trinidad rejected a motion recommending such subsidisation of the price of certain foodstuffs as would bring price levels back to those prevailing at the outbreak of the war, and adopted unanimously a resolution recommending careful consideration of measures of subsidisation calculated to prevent further rises in the Erice of staple foodstuffs widely consumed y the poorer classes of the community. No report has yet been received from the Governor of the action taken in consequence of this resolution.

Measures of subsidisation in respect of important foodstuffs and other essential commodities (e.g. cotton piece goods and fuel) have been approved and are either in force, or are to be put into force very shortly, in Jamaica, British Guiana and Barbados, and the attention of all West Indian Governors has been drawn to the possibilities of this method of meeting the rise in the cost of living.

Photo of Mr Reginald Sorensen Mr Reginald Sorensen , Leyton West

Is the right hon. Gentleman likely to take any action regarding other Colonial Governments, so as to keep an eye on the situation and speed up any necessary developments?

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Stockton-on-Tees

Yes, Sir; I am much obliged to my hon. Friend for putting this question. It is a matter on which we feel very strongly.

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham and Worthing

Has my right hon. Friend power in cases of this kind to compel the local Governments to act?

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Stockton-on-Tees

As the noble Lord knows, the powers and the exact constitutional positions of the Colonies vary so much, that I cannot give a general answer to that question.