HC Deb 22 October 1940 vol 365 cc923-5
15. Mr. Noel-Baker

asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether he can make a statement concerning the action taken by His Majesty's Government in Canada to stop the export of copper and other vital war requirements to Japan?

Viscount Cranborne

I will circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT the full text of the statement recently issued by the Canadian Government regarding their policy in relation to the export of metals and minerals from Canada. So far as copper is concerned, the statement explains that no copper will be available for export from Canada except to British Empire countries and possibly the United States, where it may be needed for the completion of Allied munition contracts, and that no further export permits for other destinations will be issued.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the action of the Governments of Colonial territories is being co-ordinated?

Viscount Cranborne

I think the hon. Member had better put that Question down to the Colonial Office.

Following is the text of the Statement issued by the Canadian Government—8th October, 1940:

Since the outbreak of the war, the export to all destinations of all essential metals and minerals of which Canada is an important supplier of world requirements has been subject to direct control, and individual export permits have been required for each shipment. Government policy in granting or withholding export permits for particular commodities for particular destinations has been worked out in close consultation with the United Kingdom Ministry of Economic Warfare. No export permits have been granted for goods when there was any reason for believing they would directly or indirectly fall into enemy hands. No permit has been granted for the export of any product of which Empire and Allied supplies fell short of requirements. In pursuance of this policy, no scrap iron or steel has been exported from Canada since October, 1939, and there has been no export from Canada, except to the United Kingdom, Allied countries and the United States of zinc and nickel since February, of aluminium since April, and of cobalt since August. Shipments of other metals and minerals from Canada to destinations outside the British Empire and the Western Hemisphere have been kept within the limits of our normal peacetime trade with the other countries concerned.

The situation in respect of individual products and particular foreign markets has been kept under continuous review, and our export permit policy modified from time to time to meet the exigencies of a rapidly changing situation. The copper position, in particular, has engaged the close attention of the competent authorities since the outbreak of the war. About 80 per cent. of the output of Eastern Canadian producers goes under direct contract to the United Kingdom Ministry of Supply. The British Columbia producers, having in mind their higher production costs and freight rates, were not at that time in a position to share in filling a demand which was, in fact, adequately met by other Canadian and Rhodesian producers. The Metals Controller, however, has during the last two months made a new examination of the copper supply situation in relation to known United Kingdom needs, and the very considerable expansion anticipated in Canadian consumption when the fabricating plants now under construction are completed. It is now probable that all available Canadian copper will be needed to meet these demands. In these circumstances, since no copper will be available for export from Canada except to British Empire countries and possibly the United States, where it may be needed in completing Allied munitions contracts, no further permits will be issued.