Bishop of St Albans asks about Indian ban on cereal exports

On 19th May 2022, the Bishop of St Albans asked a question concerning a ban placed on cereal exports by India:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the decision by the government of India to ban the export of cereals from that country on inflation and the cost of living in the United Kingdom.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel (Con, Minister of State – Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Dept. for International Trade): My Lords, taken in isolation, the direct impacts on inflation and the cost of living in the United Kingdom will be negligible. The UK imports a very small amount of wheat from India; 88% of the wheat used in the UK is grown here. However, the UK is encouraging all countries to keep their global supply chains open to minimise the global pressure on food costs and, of course, to enhance global food security.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: I thank the Minister for his reply. A few minutes ago, some of us in the Chamber were praying, “Give us this day our daily bread”. In the light of increasing wheat prices, we need not only to redouble our prayers but also to focus our political action. What discussions have Her Majesty’s Government had with the Government of India about their export ban on cereals? Perhaps even more urgently, what support are we giving the Government of Ukraine, who have huge surplus wheat stocks which they normally export, to develop land-based and river-based export channels to help them in their plight and to add to the worldwide supply of wheat?

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel: The right reverend Prelate makes good points. The cause of the Indian action is the current heatwave in India curtailing wheat production, which is expected to fall for the first time in some years. However, we have had dialogue with them and we are putting pressure on them, because it does no one any good if people shut down their borders in relation to food supply. As for the dire situation in Ukraine, if things return to normal—which we must all pray they do—food exports from there will of course then start again.


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