HC Deb 20 August 1940 vol 364 cc1115-7
40. Mr. Mander

asked the Minister of Economic Warfare whether, in view of the fact that the German authorities are exporting flour from German-occupied Poland, he will take steps to prevent any imports from overseas?

The Minister of Economic Warfare (Mr. Dalton)

Large German armed forces, assisted by Gestapo and other agencies, are quartered in Poland and no doubt are living on the country. I have also received a report that a quantity of Polish flour has been offered by the Germans to neutral purchasers in South-East Europe. On the general question of policy, I would ask my hon. Friend to await the Prime Minister's statement this afternoon.

Mr. Mander

Will my right hon. Friend see that the facts just stated are made known in the United States?

Mr. Dalton

Yes, Sir. I hope that our reports are already known there.

41. Mr. Noel-Baker

asked the Minister of Economic Warfare whether he is aware that food supplies in Norway, immediately before the German invasion, were sufficient to last for 12 months; and whether he has any information if these supplies are still intact?

Mr. Dalton

Information at my disposal indicates that at the time of the German invasion Norway had in hand a year's supply of cereals, at least nine months' supply of sugar and substantial stocks of other foodstuffs. There is, I am afraid, no doubt at all that since the invasion the Germans have removed a large part of these stocks.

Mr. Hannah

Is not this most unsatisfactory?

Mr. Dalton

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Can my right hon. Friend say whether the Germans have made any formal payment to the Norwegians?

Mr. Dalton

I believe that in some cases payment has been made with pieces of paper, but I am satisfied that these pieces of paper will not repurchase the food required for the population.

42. Mr. Watkins

asked the Minister of Economic Warfare whether he has any information as to supplies of milk products in enemy-occupied territory?

Mr. Dalton

All the enemy-occupied territories are normally self-supporting in milk and milk products. Before the war there were substantial imports of these products into the United Kingdom, particularly from Denmark and Holland. These imports amounted to approximately 240,000 tons a year. All these supplies are now available to the enemy, as are also the pre-war exports of Switzerland, a part of which used to reach this country. All these countries were, however, largely dependent on imported feeding-stuffs, lack of which will reduce their future production.

Mr. R. Gibson

Have these supplies of milk been impinged upon by the slaughtering of milk cows?

Mr. Dalton

I have no doubt that the slaughtering of cows has been somewhat speeded up, and that the resultant meat supply is being consumed in these areas.

Viscountess Astor

Is it not true that Holland had a sufficient food supply for two years?

Mr. Dalton

Perhaps the Noble Lady will put that Question down.

Mr. Maxton

On these matters, has the right hon. Gentleman any more information than the ordinary man in the street?

Mr. Dalton

Yes, Sir; very much.

44. Mr. Lathan

asked the Minister of Economic Warfare how many tons of grain Germany had at the end of June 1940?

Mr. Dalton

It has been estimated that Germany had a reserve of some 7,000,000 tons of bread grains at this date, and that, in addition, there were then at least 2,000,000 tons in the German-occupied territories. The German authorities have recently declared that these stocks have not been diminished. At the present time, of course, we must add to any preexisting stocks the new harvest throughout enemy and enemy-occupied territories.

Mr. Lathan

Are steps being taken, in this case also, to draw the attention of neutral countries to the situation, having regard to the fact that attempts are being made to induce neutral countries to send food to feed those whom Hitler is starving?

Mr. Dalton

Yes, Sir. We are taking all necessary measures to give publicity to the facts contained in this and other Questions.

45. Mr. Mander

asked the Prime Minister whether he will give an assurance that the passage of food from overseas to territory occupied by, or under the control of, Germans will not be permitted?

The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. Attlee)

Perhaps my hon. Friend would be good enough to await the statement which will be made in the course of the Debate this afternoon.

58. Mr. Brooke

asked the Minister of Economic Warfare what kinds and quantities of Dutch foodstuffs have recently been loaded by the German authorities on to the railways with the object of transferring them to Germany?

Mr. Dalton

The Germans have been attempting to remove from Holland large quantities of butter and eggs, vegetables and other foodstuffs, much in excess of their normal importations. I am happy to say, however, that these attempts have been much disturbed by the Royal Air Force.