HC Deb 27 February 1940 vol 357 cc1875-7
27. Rear-Admiral Beamish

asked the Minister of Economic Warfare what knowledge he has of imports of war material consigned to Russia; by what routes such imports proceed; from what countries and in whose ships it is carried; and why the British contraband control lets it through, in view of its possible ultimate destination?

Mr. Cross

Russian imports of war material, except from Germany, appear to have been considerably reduced in recent months. Imports of certain raw materials including rubber, copper and molybdenum during the period September to January were, however, larger than during the same period in 1937–38. These imports have entered the Soviet Union at Vladivostock, and come from the United States of America, either direct or through Mexico, from the Philippines and from the Netherlands East Indies. The ships employed appear mainly to be Soviet, Dutch, Japanese and Norwegian. These ships do not pass through the British contraband control.

Rear-Admiral Beamish

Is the Minister aware that there is an apparent looseness which inflicts a great injury on the interests of this country and also makes very grave difficulties for the Navy?

Mr. Cross

My hon. Friend must appreciate that there is no contraband control in the Pacific.

28. Mr. Mander

asked the Minister of Economic Warfare whether he has any information about large shipments of tin from the United States to Vladivostock during the last few months; and whether, in view of the fact that no such shipments were made before the war, he is in a position to assure the House that the metal is not re-exported to Germany?

33. Mr. Price

asked the Minister of Economic Warfare whether he has any information about the increase of shipments of oil, tin and rubber by the United States to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics; and whether he is satisfied that part of these raw materials will not be re-sold to Germany?

Mr. Cross

I am aware that shipments of tin and rubber from the United States of America to the Soviet Union have increased during the last few months; shipments of petroleum appear, however, to have decreased. I have no information to show whether part of these raw materials is being re-sold to Germany.

Mr. Mander

Are not conversations being conducted with the United States Government with a view to obtaining the assurance which we ought to have that this is not being re-exported to Germany?

Mr. Cross

It will be remembered that the United States is a neutral country. They are, I believe, well aware of all the circumstances, and I do not feel it would be perhaps our best course to make any such direct approach as the hon. Member suggests.

Mr. Mander

Is it not the case that we are conducting negotiations with a large number of neutral countries at the present time for the very purpose of preventing this kind of thing? Why then should the United States be excluded?

Mr. Cross

For the simple reason that the countries with whom we are conducting these negotiations are subject to our contraband control and there is no such sanction where the United States are concerned.

Mr. Price

Can the Minister say whether these goods go via Vladivostock or via Murmansk and the White Sea?

Mr. Cross

I have no information of materials coming in at Murmansk and the White Sea, but I can say that material is going in at Vladivostock and via the Kobe-Darien route.

Mr. Leach

Does it not indicate that America prefers Mammon to democracy?