asked the Undersecretary of State for the Colonies whether steps have been taken or will be taken, to give workers in the tin mines of Nigeria a food ration in addition to their money wages, as has been done in the Northern Rhodesian copper belt, where the workers receive an approximately similar wage?
In general, labourers employed on the mines in Nigeria have always preferred to make their own purchases in the local markets, where their tastes and peculiarities are catered for. Northern Rhodesia scarcely affords an accurate comparison since throughout that country and East Africa generally the issue of rations has always been customary. Furthermore the cost of food is appreciably higher than in Nigeria, and local markets of the West African type are not available.
In the case of those workers on the tin mines who axe employed under the Regulations for compulsory service in essential industries, two scales of wages are fixed by the Regulations, one to apply where the prescribed rations of food and fuel are issued, and the other to apply where rations are not supplied. The difference between the scales of wages is equivalent to the cost price of the rations.
Yes, Sir, we are taking every step to make the rations available. The only question is whether it is more convenient to arrange for the workers to purchase in the normal markets or have them supplied free.