HC Deb 12 February 1920 vol 125 cc206-8

asked the Prime Minister whether the Government has had under consideration the Report by the British Director or Relief on the Economic Conditions in Central Europe, published in White Paper, Miscellaneous Series, No. 1, 1920; and whether it is proposed to take any steps to carry out in concert with allied and neutral countries Sir William Goode's recommendations, contained in paragraph 3 of that Report, in special relationship to credits for food in most countries, raw materials in all countries, and stabilisation of currencies.

The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Chamberlain)

Yes, Sir. Final arrangements cannot be made until the United States Congress has granted the necessary powers to the Administration. His Majesty's Government would also have preferred, if it had been possible, to make no final decision until the co-operation of Allied and Neutral countries in a comprehensive plan, which they regard as of great importance, has been arranged for. In view, however, of the great urgency of the matter, and despite the difficulties of the financial situation of the United Kingdom in regard to foreign exchange, His Majesty's Government have informed the United States Government that over and above the £12,500,000 voted this year for relief, they are prepared to contribute a further sum for European relief credits not exceeding half the sum contributed by the United States of America and not exceeding in all £10,000,000. The British share will be applicable to the provision of British supplies of foodstuffs, raw materials and other essential commodities, and to the payment of freight charges for goods carried in British vessels, whether the goods are purchased out of British credits or not, provided that such vessels can be made available. The Ministry of Shipping state that, if the American grant is limited to $50,000,000 as appears to be proposed by the Ways and Means Committee of Congress, the necessary tonnage for transporting the American supplies can be provided without question.

The Canadian Government have intimated to His Majesty's Government their desire to make a contribution, and His Majesty's Government are confident that other Governments, both Allied and Neutral, will also co-operate in these emergency measures for dealing with what can be truly called the desperate needs of certain parts of Europe.

His Majesty's Government regard it as essential—and they understand that the United States Government share their view—that the conditions governing the grant of such relief credits should include provisions ensuring that they shall be utilised for the purpose of stimulating production and the unfettered interchange of fundamental commodities between the various countries in need of assistance, with a view to the early restoration of self-supporting economic life.

Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY

May I ask whether we will set the example by removing trade restrictions?


We are removing trade restrictions as rapidly as possible.

Sir J. D. REES

May I ask if this money is to be a loan and it any provision is made for repayment and whether supplies made out of British credits will be purchased within the British Empire?


If the hon. Gentleman will refer to the reply—which is a long one, and which I do not want to repeat—he will see that I answer that question.