HC Deb 19 April 1923 vol 162 cc2261-2
Captain TERRELL (by Private Notice)

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that the French authorities have placed an embargo on the exportation from France to England of British shells, which have been emptied by English firms in France; furthermore, whether he is aware that the French authorities have suddenly ordered the removal from their ports of several thousand tons of shells which have been collected for export to English steelworks; and will he take immediate steps to see that British-made shells originally sent over for use by the British Army may be returned without undue interference to this country for use in our steelworks?


My attention had not previously been called to the order for the removal from French ports of emptied British shells, but I am fully aware that the French Government have prohibited the export from France of iron and steel scrap, in which category these shells are included. His Majesty's Government have for weeks past been doing their utmost in Paris to secure a relaxation of the prohibition, and they have lately addressed a protest to the French Government calling attention to the breach of Article 3 of the Anglo-French Convention of 1882 involved by the French relaxation of the prohibition in the case of Italy and Belgium, but not of the United Kingdom. I regret to state that in their reply the French Government, whilst attempting to justify their action, pass by, unmentioned, this violation of the Treaty. His Majesty's Minister in Paris is being instructed to make urgent representations to the French Government in regard to the shells, which are regarded by His Majesy's Government as a matter of importance.


Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the result of the French action in putting on this embargo has been to raise the price of steel scrap, a very necessary raw material, £2 a ton?


I have no such information.