HC Deb 24 February 1966 vol 725 cc619-20
Q1. Mr. Brewis

asked the Prime Minister what aid will be given to India to assist famine relief; and what contribution will be made by British agriculture.

The First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Economic Affairs (Mr. George Brown)

I have been asked to reply.

As my right hon. Friend said on 17th February, we have already made available able an immediate and interim loan of £ 7½ million for this purpose, and this has been warmly welcomed by the Indian Government. As far as supplies of British produced food are concerned, while we do not, of course, produce many items surplus to our own requirements, we are in touch with the Indian Government about those things which we could make available if they want them.

Mr. Brewis

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for that reply. Are the Government sufficiently conscious that this famine may be one of the great tragedies of this century? Would he say whether by increased aid he can improve relations with India, which are not very good at present?

Mr. Brown

I am sure that the whole House will share the hon. Gentleman's great concern about this matter. What we can do we will do. We are in touch with the Indian Government. We made an immediate gesture in this direction which they welcomed. We are still discussing with them what we can do.

Mr. Geoffrey Wilson

Has the right hon. Gentleman's attention been drawn to the fact that there is a surplus of pilchards in Cornwall which has been offered for this purpose? Will he look into the matter to see whether it can be used?

Mr. Brown

My attention has only just been drawn to that matter, but I will ensure that it is considered.

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