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Volume 438: debated on Wednesday 18 June 1947

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what steps he is taking to obtain an increased allocation of rice in Malaya in view of the large stocks of surplus rice in Siam which have not yet been mobilised for world use.

The allocation of rice to Malaya, in common with all other rice-eating countries, is made by the International Emergency Food Council out of world availabilities. His Majesty's Government is a member of this Council and Colonial interests are carefully watched. My information is different from that of the hon. Member that there are large stocks of surplus rice in Siam. Unfortunately, the surplus stocks are not there and the Siam Government can barely find the exports that it requires to satisfy its engagements.

In view of the fact that His Majesty's Government were party to a contract for one and a half million tons of rice from Siam, based no doubt on finding out the facts, is it not curious that there should be a short fall of 600,000 tons today on that contract? What has happened?

I cannot tell what has happened to it, but from the point of view of exportable surplus it just is not there.

Is it not a fact that during the period of the Japanese occupation a lot of rice fields in Siam were put out of production and the Siamese Government based their original estimate on a full yield which they were quite unable to carry out?

In view of the fact that two hon. Members of this House, the hon. Member for Bury (Mr. W. Fletcher) and the hon. Member for North Islington (Dr. Guest) visited Siam in February of this year and were both informed on good authority in Bangkok that there was a large amount of rice available for export will the Colonial Secretary have this matter looked into further because it seems certain that there is a great deal of rice?

I have supplied the House with the information which is in my possession. I will certainly make further inquiries, but I must say that all the information I have is quite contrary to the prevalent notion that the rice is there.

In view of the fact that the Controller of Rice from the Ministry of Food has just returned from Siam will the House be given a full report from him?


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what reduction has been made in the official rice ration in Malaya in the last three months; and what price is being paid in the unofficial market in rice in Northern Malaya.

The rice ration in Malaya was reduced from 6 oz. per head per day to 4½ oz. from 18th May. When the rice ration was reduced the flour ration was increased by the same amount, namely, 1½ oz. The whole cereal ration remained at 8½ oz. per head per day. The unofficial market price for rice in Northern Malaya is, I understand, about 3¾d. per lb.

Is the Minister aware that the flour ration is not a substitute for the rice ration in a large number of cases, and will he press the urgency for a complete revision of the whole question of rice in Siam?