India (Food Shortage)

Oral Answers to Questions — Overseas Development – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th November 1966.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Cyril Osborne Mr Cyril Osborne , Louth Borough 12:00 am, 24th November 1966

asked the Minister of Overseas Development if he is aware that because of drought, India's food production this year has reached its lowest point, and that the surplus on the 1964–65 crop has become a deficiency; what steps he is taking to assist in overcoming the imminent Indian food crisis; and how much he proposes to spend on such assistance.

Photo of Mr Cranley Onslow Mr Cranley Onslow , Woking

asked the Minister of Overseas Development whether he will ensure that any offers of official British aid to India are in future directly linked to the increase of food production in that country.

Photo of Mr John Tilney Mr John Tilney , Liverpool Wavertree

asked the Minister of Overseas Development what action he is taking to help India over her lack of foodstuffs, particularly protein.

Photo of Mr Albert Oram Mr Albert Oram , East Ham South

I have heard with distress of the shortage of food in certain areas of India. I hope shortly to be able to announce further aid to India to complete our pledge for this year. Like that already afforded earlier this year, this aid will be available in a flexible form, best adapted to India's needs, as determined in consultation with the Government of India.

Photo of Mr Cyril Osborne Mr Cyril Osborne , Louth Borough

That Answer tells us nothing and is worthless. Is the Minister aware that I am asking him what the Government intend to send to these millions of Indians who are on the verge of starvation, what requests have been made by the Indian Government to us and what reply we have given? Will something be done urgently?

Photo of Mr Albert Oram Mr Albert Oram , East Ham South

We are, of course, in discussion with the Indian Government about our future aid. As I said, we are not in a position to announce what that is at the moment. We have not received specific requests from India in relation to the present food situation.

Photo of Mr Cranley Onslow Mr Cranley Onslow , Woking

Would the hon. Gentleman not agree that the present state of affairs is unsatisfactory, particularly since India has received enormous grants of aid for industrial purposes which have brought no discernible benefit to the vast majority of the population of that country? Will he not make representations to the Indian Government in an effort to see that the money is used to benefit the people of that country?

Photo of Mr Albert Oram Mr Albert Oram , East Ham South

We are very ready to see that our aid is used for agricultural projects, if the Government of India wish this. However, apart from technical assistance, the Government of India have so far preferred that priority be given to projects of an industrial nature.

Photo of Mr John Tilney Mr John Tilney , Liverpool Wavertree

Is it not fair to say that the food position in India would be greatly improved if modern conditions of farming were employed and if new strains of grain were used? Will he look once again into the protein-producing plant which is a British patent but which may be taken over by America?

Photo of Mr Albert Oram Mr Albert Oram , East Ham South

In answer to the first part of that question, we provide technical assistance for agriculture which takes account of the sort of point the hon. Gentleman has in mind. With regard to the protein-producing plant, the hon. Gentleman has a later Question down on this subject.

Photo of Mr James Johnson Mr James Johnson , Kingston upon Hull West

Will my hon. Friend repudiate what the parsimonious Pecksniffians have said and remind them of the population explosion which has been taking place in South-East Asia, not least in India?