India (Food Situation)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 4th November 1943.

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Photo of Mr Leslie Hore-Belisha Mr Leslie Hore-Belisha , Plymouth, Devonport 12:00 am, 4th November 1943

India has accumulated a sterling balance of, we are told, £688,000,000, so that the total credit to India will be a great sum of money, whereas before there was a debit. India will not be a debtor country to Britain, but a creditor country. That has an almost seismic effect on the economy of the world. It means that India, in order to be paid this debt, will have to enrich her country. She will have to take manufactures in great quantities from us. That is why India will be one of the few coun- tries in the world, if not the only country, which will emerge with certain advantages not enjoyed before.

What can we learn from this calamity? What is disclosed in the White Paper? I preface the answer by stating again that there can be no condonation of any lapses, oversights or omissions. Likewise there will be no condonation if the Government do not address themselves to the provision of more shipping and more staff if necessary. But the real lesson to be deduced from the White Paper is a very important and significant one. This has been a test—a very severe and harsh test, but, nevertheless, a test—of provincial self-government in India. There is no escape from that fact. We have embarked upon a policy from which we are not going to recede, but it is a fact that this Province of Bengal was governed in accordance with Parliamentary procedure and Cabinet responsibility.