HC Deb 12 May 1947 vol 437 cc1067-8
27. Mr. Walter Fletcher

asked the Minister of Food what shipments of rice have been made from Siam in February, March and April, 1947, respectively.

28. Dr. Haden Guest

asked the Minister of Food what price the International Rice Commission is now paying for rice in Siam; and whether expected supplies are now available.

Mr. Strachey

About 20,500 tons of rice were exported from Siam in February, 31,800 tons in March, and 45,000 tons between 1st and 25th April. The Combined Siam Rice Commission do not buy rice; the present export price is about £26 per ton f.o.b.

Mr. Fletcher

Would the Minister agree that this total for very nearly three months is well below the contracts signed last year, and what steps is he taking to see that supplies of this vital food from Malaya and other parts of the East are very largely increased? Has he managed to see that the owner and producer of rice gets the benefit of the foreign exchange and not the Government?

Mr. Strachey

I would agree that these totals are not fully satisfactory but they are rising. I would not like to utter any complacent words about the situation. My Director of Rice has very recently been in Siam and we are putting very strong pressure on the Siamese Government in view of the immense importance of this foodstuff and we shall certainly continue to do so.

Sir W. Smithers

May I protest against, "My Director of Rice?" The Director of Rice is a servant of the taxpayer and of the country.

Mr. Strachey

If the phrase does not please the hon. Member, I shall be delighted to withdraw it.

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