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India

Volume 393: debated on Thursday 4 November 1943

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Rice (Milling Method)

25.

asked the Secretary of State for India whether he is aware that there is in existence a new method of milling rice, a British invention, which not only preserves the vital germ of the grain but results in a larger product; that this method has been taken up in the United States of America and is about to be taken up in this country; and whether will consider the introduction of this modern milling technique into India with a view to mitigating any future rice shortage?

I have heard of the process to which I presume the honourable Member refers. There are certain drawbacks to its application, even to the 27 per cent. of Indian rice that is not hand pounded, but if the honourable Member has any information on the subject that he would like to furnish, I will consider communicating it to the Government of India.

Has it been possible, as a result of the famine conditions, to do anything to reduce the amount of polishing of Indian rice?

Food Imports And Exports

26.

asked the Secretary of State for India the latest month covered by Table II in the October White Paper showing the net imports and exports of food grains during the fiscal years 1937–1943 and whether a return or approximate estimate can now be given for any later months?

The latest month covered by Table II in the White Paper is March, 1943. Figures of exports of foodgrains from India during subsequent months, up to the latest available date, are shown in Table III. Imports of foodgrains on private accounts during the three months April to June, 1943, were negligible.

In view of the rather startling fact that during the fiscal year 1942–43 exports of food grains exceeded imports by no less than 361,000 tons, can we be assured that the balance has now been redressed and that imports are exceeding exports?

Yes, certainly. These figures of imports do not include imports on Government account. Otherwise, the figures would look more closely balanced.

28.

asked the Secretary of State for India whether exports of food other than grain from India are continuing to any considerable extent; and whether the sending of food parcels from India to individuals in this country has been, or will be, prohibited?

The recommendation of the Foodgrains Committee is that no exports of food should be permitted from India, unless such exports are fully compensated by imports. I have not yet seen the actual orders passed by the Government of India on this point, but they can be relied upon to safeguard food supplies required for Indian consumption. The information asked for in the last part of the Question is not available in this country; I have asked the Government of India to furnish it.

In view of the fact that the sending of individual food parcels, although they may be almost negligible in quantity, is likely to have a bad effect on Indian public opinion, could not a stop be put to food exports of that kind?

Is the Minister aware that the sending of individual parcels is having a very bad effect on people in this country, let alone the people in India? Will he not agree that it should be stopped right away?

I am not quite sure on that point. They do include exports mainly to Ceylon and the States on the Persian Gulf, where there has been a food shortage.

Relief

25.

asked the Secretary of State for India the amount of capital standing to the credit of the Relief Fund started with a donation from the Maharajah of Jaipur after the famine of 1899–1900; the annual income from investments; and the extent to which the fund has been used for the relief of distress in Bengal?

The reference is presumably to the Indian People's Famine Trust set up in 1900. This is a rupee fund administered in India, and I shall have to ask the Government of India for the information desired by my hon. Friend.

Will my right hon. Friend advise the Government of India not to hesitate to draw freely on this fund for relief of distress, although it is not a money famine but a food famine at the present time?

Small States (Incorporation)

29.

asked the Secretary of State for India whether he has any information respecting the incorporation of the Kathiawar States in other States; and what is the present position respecting the proposed incorporation of other small States?

I am sending the hon. Member a copy of the Press announcement of 16th April last explaining the Crown Representative's proposals to secure better administration of a number of small States of Kathiawar and Gujerat, whose individual resources are too small to enable them to attain to modern standards of administration.

Press Censorship

30.

asked the Secretary of State for India what restrictions are imposed on Indian newspapers and upon news sent from this country; and for how long public statements by British Members of Parliament are intercepted and delayed when despatched by news agencies and newspaper correspondents to the Indian Press?

The Central and Provincial Governments in collaboration with the Press Advisory Committees encourage the Press in India itself to impose any necessary restrictions on its members, but have power to issue orders as necessary under the Indian Press (Emergency Powers) Act, 1931, and Defence of India Rules 40 and 41. As these Orders vary in different Provinces and are subject to constant review I am unable to give the hon. Member detailed information about them. Press messages reaching India from outside are subject to scrutiny by the Indian Censorship but the delay involved is kept to the lowest possible degree.

Is there, on this side, any kind of censorship or interception of communications sent to India?

Yes, there is a censorship at this end, strictly dealing with matters of military information.

Could the Minister say why it was that a letter sent to the "Manchester Guardian" by the hon. Member for West Leyton was intercepted and delayed for some time after publication in this country?

I will be delighted to look into that if the hon. Member will provide me with the details.