HC Deb 19 February 1947 vol 433 cc1168-9
36. Mr. Rees-Williams

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies in view of the fact that the housewife in Singapore is Still paying approximately eight times the controlled price for halt her main foodstuff, namely, rice, what steps he is taking to smash the black market.

Mr. Creech Jones

Though the rice ration in Singapore is admittedly inadequate, a supplementary flour ration is available, and it is not the case that recourse to the black market by the housewife is essential. Apart from bulk importing and controlling the distribution of the major portion of rice which is consumed locally, vigorous action is taken by the Government to overcome the black market including the confiscation of illegal imports and the prosecution of offenders against the Food and Price Control Proclamations. It will, however, be appreciated that, so long as the present difficult supply situation persists, complete eradication of the black market necessarily presents a difficult task.

Mr. W. Fletcher

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the so-called black market is the unofficial market and a corruption due to the Government's complete failure to provide surplus rice in Siam, and that the only means left to the good employer, in order to supplement the meagre Government ration of five ounces a day, is to use this market, which is well known and is not discouraged by the Government?

Mr. Creech Jones

I am astonished that the hon. Member, after his recent visit to Malaya, should rise and make such suggestions.

Mr. Rees-Williams

In view of the fact that the content of this Question has been widely published in Malaya will the Minister make known to the Press of Malaya his answer today, together with the evidence upon which be based it?

Mr. Creech Jones

Yes, Sir, certainty.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the only way to overcome the black market in Singapore, as elsewhere, is to tree the economy of the country?