HC Deb 27 February 1940 vol 357 c1877
29. Major-General Sir Alfred Knox

asked the Minister of Economic Warfare whether he is aware that in the last four months of 1939, as compared with the corresponding period in 1938, American exports to the 13 countries, Italy, Russia, four Balkan and three Scandinavian countries, Belgium, Holland, Hungary and Switzerland rose in value from £35,000,000 to £52,000,000, while in the same periods American values to Britain and France only increased from £60.000,000 to £67,000,000; and what steps he proposes to take?

Mr. Cross

The figures given by my hon. and gallant Friend as regards American exports to the United Kingdom and France are approximately accurate; I have not been able to check the figures as regards the 13 neutral countries referred to. But even if the figures are as stated, it does not follow that any action on the part of His Majesty's Government is necessarily required. I have no reason to suspect any serious leakage, as far as European countries are concerned. It must be remembered that a number of factors affect these figures including increases in prices and the desire of neutral countries to strengthen their stocks of foodstuffs and raw materials. Nor have we any reason to object if a neutral country should obtain its requirements from the United States rather than from Germany. I would add that the American exports to the 13 neutral countries mentioned, with the exception of exports to Russia via Vladivostock, pass through our controls and are most carefully watched.

Sir A. Knox

Is the hon. Member quite sure that the neutral countries are not being treated too leniently, and is he aware that his Ministry is a Ministry of Economic Warfare and not of economic appeasement?

Mr. Cross

I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend most definitely that we do use our bargaining and other powers to the full.