HC Deb 09 October 1946 vol 427 cc169-70
9. Mr. Rees-Williams

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what steps he is taking to deal with the grave shortage of food in the Malayan Union and Singapore.

12. Mr. Gammans

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is aware of the hardship which is being caused in Malaya by the reduction of the rice ration; and if he is in a position to make a statement on the subject.

The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Creech Jones)

The shortage is not one of food generally but mainly of imported rice and flour. The recent reduction in the rice rations has undoubtedly caused serious hardship and although there has been a small compensating increase in the flour ration, I fully realise that the combined cereals rations are very low. With the close cooperation of my right hon. Friends the Ministers of Food and Transport, I am making every effort to see that as much rice and flour as can be made available in the existing supply position is shipped to these territories. I may add that everything possible is being done by the Governors concerned to ensure the production of the maximum amount of foodstuffs locally.

Mr. Gammans

Is the Secretary of State not aware that Malaya expected to get a large quantity of rice from Siam, and will he say whether that rice is likely to be forthcoming, and when the ration of rice in the country can probably be raised?

Mr. Creech Jones

There are special difficulties in regard to the ration in Siam, but I am glad to say that we hope that supplies which were to have gone to China will now be diverted to Malaya.

Mr. Walter Fletcher

Does the Secretary of State remember the reply given in this House about five months ago that a contract was signed by Lord Killearn for about 1,500,000 tons of surplus rice in Siam and that there was to be a splendid flow to Malaya? Will he explain why, if there are nearly 1,500,000 tons surplus in Siam, the Government are unable to move it less than 500 miles, to a country where there is severe famine?

Mr. Creech Jones

It is impossible to go into the details of the difficulties in regard to the transportation of rice from Siam to Malaya, but everything possible is being done to get as big a proportion of what is available in Siam into Malaya.