asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies the total amount held by his Department as a result of difference in price between the purchase price of cocoa in West Africa and its sale based on New York open cocoa market at 1st September, 1947; and what steps have been taken to distribute this sum to the producers.
Might I ask the Minister—and in so doing take the opportunity of congratulating him—whether the enormous profit that has been made out of this highly nutritional foodstuff, greatly desired in starving Europe, is not a source of great embarrassment to the Government when they complain about the high cost of food in the dollar and other areas?
The trading surplus of the West African Produce Control Board on sales of West African cocoa up to, but excluding, the 1946–47 season was £9,637,863. This sum has, in accordance with the undertakings given by His Majesty's Government, been voted by the House to the Nigerian and Gold Coast Governments for use by the West African Cocoa Marketing Boards, which have recently been established, and which will in future exercise the functions hitherto performed by the West African Produce Control Board.
Approximately £9,000,000 has already been transferred to West Africa. Of this sum £1½ million has been allocated to research work on plant diseases of cocoa and the balance is held by the new Boards. The trading surplus of the W.A.P.C.B. on sales of cocoa for the session which has just been completed (1946–47) is estimated at £15 million. As has already been explained to the House, this large surplus resulted from the great advance in the world market price of cocoa which took place after the producers price for the season was fixed in September, 1946.
This sum will be voted in due course to the West African Governments. Of the Gold Coast share, approximately £850,000 is to be set aside for use by the Gold Coast Government for expenditure on higher education. The balance of the-Gold Coast share and all of the Nigerian share will be added to the balances of the new Cocoa Boards.
The new Boards have not yet, so far as I am aware, taken any decisions on the detailed purposes for which their unallocated balances will be employed but the general intention is that they should be used to finance the purchase of cocoa, to provide a stabilisation fund against future price fluctuations and for such other purposes as, in the opinion of the Boards, will conduce to the benefit of the cocoa farmers on the lines indicated in Paragraph 15 of the Statement of Future Marketing of West African Cocoa which was presented to the House last November (Cmd. 6950).