HC Deb 13 March 1922 vol 151 cc1751-3

asked the Prime Minister whether the food supplies, medical stores, comforts, and clothing provided by the British Government for relief of the famine in Russia despatched from England were selected and approved by a representative of the British Red Cross Society; whether the prices were agreed with him by a representative of the Disposal and Liquidation Commission;, if so, whether they were lower than could have been obtained for the supplies in the open market in England; whether the stores supplied from Egypt were selected from stocks in Egypt by a representative of the British Red Cross Society with the Disposal Board Commissioner in Egypt; whether the valuation was made on the basis of the then existing local market prices and the condition of the goods: whether the list of medical stores lying at Constantinople was considered by a technical representative of the British Red Cross Society, who agreed to the prices and that the stores were suitable for relief purposes; and upon what basis was the valuation of these store made?


I have been asked to answer this question. The facts as to the selection of the stores are in general as stated in my hon. Friend's question. The prices of the stores supplied from England were, I am advised, slightly lower than could have been obtained for them in the open market. In Egypt the valuation was made on then existing market prices. For the medical stores at Constantinople the prices were considerably reduced below home prices, and allowance was made for probable deterioration owing to storage.


Is it not a fact that the train conveying these stores was intercepted before reaching its destination?


I am not acquainted with that circumstance. I can neither affirm nor deny it.


When the stores were opened were they all found to be decomposed, other than the lime-juice and the dentists chairs, which were sent out to these starving people?


Complaints were undoubtedly received, but a satisfactory settlement of the complaints has now been arrived at.


Did the satisfactory settlement consist of sending out similar quantities of drugs in a proper condition?


I can only give an outline of the arrangements made, which I believe have given satisfaction. There was a re-valuation of some of the stores, and as regards others there was a substitution of more acceptable stores.

50. Mr. G. BARNES

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he is now in a position to give a more detailed statement in respect to the aid given and to be given to help the sufferers from the Russian famine and to prevent famine next year: and if he can now state if he is in a position to name a day when the matter can be debated in the House?


Of the stores covered by the Vote for £100,000 voted by the House in November last, the whole amount has been either already supplied or is in process of being supplied. It is believed that further supplies to the approximate value of £100,000 or perhaps more can be made available from Government stocks, and the House will be asked to take a Supplementary Vote to cover this further provision. As regards the last part of the question, it is proposed to allocate Friday next for this discussion.


Perhaps it would not be convenient for the right hon. Gentleman to say' anything more about the nature of the stores which it is proposed to allot?


I am not myself personally dealing with the matter, into which my right hon. Friend the Minister of Education has been good enough to look, but I think I, or my right hon. Friend, will be in a better position to answer in the course of the Debate on Friday.

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