HC Deb 27 February 1940 vol 357 cc1873-5
26. Mr. G. Strauss

asked the Minister of Economic Warfare what are the arrangements under which Italian ships are exempted from contraband control at Gibraltar?

Mr. Cross

Italian ships are not exempted from contraband control at Gibraltar. They can, however, in common with other neutral ships, avail themselves of facilities enabling them on certain terms to proceed after a brief examination. These terms are that their cargo is to be held at their port of destination pending a decision by the Contraband Committee. Any goods then ordered to be seized are re-shipped to a suitable allied port at the expense of the shipping company.

Mr. Strauss

Is the Minister quite sure that there is no evasion by ships going to small ports, or anything of that sort?

Mr. Cross

I cannot say that there is never any evasion because, obviously, the sea is a large place and a number of vessels may escape contraband control. I have, however, no information which indicates that there is evasion of any importance.

Miss Wilkinson

Is it not indicated by the large increase of products obtained by Russia from the United States as compared with last year?

Mr. Cross

This question concerns Italy.

31. Lieut.-Colonel Heneage

asked the Minister of Economic Warfare whether he is aware that there is widespread uneasiness about the extent of the circumvention of the blockade through the United States, Russia, Norway, Italy, Holland, and Belgium; and that in view of the vital importance of the full enforcement of the blockade, he will make a statement to the House on this matter?

32. Mr. Cary

asked the Minister of Economic Warfare whether, in view of the existence of a number of loopholes in the blockade, he will make an early statement reviewing the position and progress of economic warfare?

Mr. Cross

I have not at present anything that I can usefully add to my statement to the House on 17th January. I can, however, assure my hon. Friends that the possibilities of evasion of our contraband control are constantly under review, but such information as I have does not lead me to suspect that there is serious leakage so far as the European countries referred to are concerned. If my hon. Friends have any evidence in a contrary sense, I shall be glad to receive and consider it. There is more evidence of efforts to ship contraband via Vladivostock and the possibilities of checking such shipments is being considered, but the extent to which this route can be used for bulky commodities is obviously limited. I will, of course, be prepared, should the occasion arise, to make a further statement on the subject.

Lieut.-Colonel Heneage

Will my hon. Friend see any information that I and other Members have?

Mr. Cross

indicated assent.