HL Deb 11 May 1949 vol 162 cc497-8

2.34 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask His Majesty's Government whether they are fully aware of the serious drought that has been prevalent during the early months of this year throughout Central and East Africa and whether there is any danger of there being a serious shortage of foodstuffs necessary for the Africans in our Colonies in these parts of Africa, especially near the big centres of population; and whether His Majesty's Government are taking all necessary steps to help mitigate the hardships that may arise in the near future.]


My Lords, His Majesty's Government are aware of the drought to which the noble Viscount refers in his question. Present indications, however, are that the drought which affected certain parts of the territories of Central Africa during the early part of this year will not now prove as serious as was at first expected. The areas principally affected lie within the territories of Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. The Governments concerned have co-operated in arranging a joint plan of grain imports, principally from the United States and the Union of South Africa, which it is hoped will be sufficient to relieve any hardships which may occur during the next twelve months. As regards East Africa, my right honourable friend is aware of reports of shortage of rainfall in parts of Tanganyika, but he has received no report from the Governor that food supplies for the local population have been adversely affected. He is, however, making inquiries.

His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom would like to take this opportunity of expressing their appreciation of the action of the Government of the Union of South Africa in making available from their stocks considerable quantities of grain for the relief of their northern neighbours;. and also to the Government of Southern Rhodesia for the action they have taken in this matter. The Governments of Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia are also entitled to recognition for the urgent and able manner in which they tackled the problem in their respective territories.


My Lords, while thanking the noble Lord for the answer, I would like to ask him whether the drought will have any serious effect on the Tanganyika ground-nuts scheme, as we have been given to understand that harvesting started a month earlier than usual. Can the noble Earl tell us what loss of tonnage of ground-nuts and sunflower seeds is expected owing to the drought?


My Lords, I am afraid that I cannot answer that question without notice, although I believe that my right honourable friend the Minister of Food answered a Question on this subject a few days ago in another place. However, I will certainly obtain the information and let the noble Viscount have it as soon as I can.

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