Mr. Graham White
asked the Secretary of State for India whether he is in a position to make a statement on the present position and future policy in India with regard to food-stuffs?
§ Mr. Amery
The present difficult situation is due to a widespread tendency of cultivators to withhold foodgrains from the market, to larger consumption per head as the result of increased family income, to hoarding by consumers and others, and, in many parts of India, to the fact that the methods by which surplus supplies of foodgrains have in normal times moved from areas of production to areas of consumption have ceased to function or been seriously weakened. The Government of India's policy in meeting this situation and the resulting rise in prices was founded on the division of the country into regions and "food provinces" with a view to the transfer of supplies under Government auspices from surplus areas to those in which there is a deficit. Within the last few weeks it has been necessary to relax restrictions on inter-provincial transfer of supplies within the Eastern region in order to meet the needs of Calcutta, and this was linked with administrative action designed to extract surplus grains from hoard.
These measures were not wholly successful and at the beginning of July the Government of India called an All-India Food Conference for the urgent consideration of the short-term problem. This body has already made, and the Government of India has accepted, various recommendations, among which are the early extension of urban rationing, the physical control of stocks and administrative measures to counter hoarding, and the procurement of surpluses by Government controlled agencies. A proposal that unrestricted trade movements of foodgrains between administrative areas should be allowed was considered but rejected. The Government of India have also assembled 217W a Committee representative of all-India to consider longer term problems of Indian food supplies. This Committee is now sitting.