HC Deb 15 February 1940 vol 357 cc924-5
21. Mr. Woods

asked the Under-Secretary of State for India, in view of the fact that the majority of Indians affected by the Ceylon Government's repatriation scheme are Indians from Malabar, and that the Malabar peasant has also suffered considerably by the import of Ceylon copra into India, what steps the Government of India contemplate taking to safeguard the interests of the Malabar peasant?

The Under-Secretary of State for India (Sir Hugh O'Neill)

In common with other Indians employed in Ceylon, those who come from Malabar are, of course, affected by the dispute arising from the Ceylon Government's retrenchment scheme. Efforts which have been made during recent months to bring outstanding questions at issue between the Governments of India and Ceylon into direct discussion between representatives of the two Governments have, unfortunately, proved unsuccessful. The resulting position is at present under consideration, and I am not yet in a position to say what action may be decided upon.

Mr. Paling

Has it been decided to repatriate these people before the scheme is finished; and how many have already been repatriated?

Sir H. O'Neill

I cannot answer that question without notice.

Mr. Woods

Are any steps being taken to safeguard the interests of these people, who are being returned from Ceylon to India, in many cases in a condition of complete destitution?

Sir H. O'Neill

Yes, Sir. There is close collaboration and discussion between the Governments of Ceylon and India, and I hope that some result will be reached before long.