HC Deb 10 June 1941 vol 372 cc10-2
15. Mr. A. Edwards

asked the Minister of Economic Warfare whether he is aware that American firms are still sending war materials to Axis countries; that motor-fuel supplies are leaving Latin-American ports for Germany and Italy; that the Dutch East Indies have recently increased their allocation of petroleum to Japan, which is being refined and transported by British and American companies; and what steps he is taking to stop these supplies getting to Axis countries?

The Minister of Economic Warfare (Mr. Dalton)

A large number of important war materials cannot now be exported from the U.S.A. without an export licence. Such licences are subject to strict control, which should effectively prevent any supplies of these materials reaching the enemy from the United States. If my hon. Friend has any information regarding the supply of war material to the enemy by American firms, I should be much obliged if he would let me have it. So far as I am aware, no neutral ships are engaged in carrying motor oil from Latin-America to Germany and Italy. Enemy ships occasionally make the attempt, the latest being the German steamship "Lech" which was intercepted on 22nd May. In reply to the third part of the Question, I understand that the short-term contract between the N.E.I, and Japanese oil interests has been renewed for another six months, but that there is no increase in the quantity of oil contracted for. In reply to the last part of the Question, the Navy make every effort to intercept blockade runners from South America, and His Majesty's Government are in frequent consultation with the United States Government on these matters.

Mr. Edwards

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think, now that this matter is being adversely criticised in the American Press, that he might impress upon the American Government that to the extent to which they supply goods to the enemy they are not acting up to the President's statement of policy but are becoming the arsenals of autocracy?

Mr. Dalton

I should be very much obliged if my hon. Friend would give me any particulars that he has.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Will my right hon. Friend draw the attention of the American and Dutch Governments to the experience that we had with the Italian Government over oil supplies in the first year of the war?

Mr. McGovern

Can the right hon. Gentleman state whether there is any truth in the statement that petroleum or oil from the Dutch East Indies is being shipped to Japan and then goes to Germany for use in her submarines?

Mr. Dalton

It is quite clear that a quantity of oil is being shipped from the Netherlands East Indies to Japan. It is not being carried in British or American tankers, but in Japanese tankers. There is, of course, a possibility that it may pass on over the Trans-Siberian route into Germany, but I think it is more likely that it is retained in Japan.

Mr. McGovern

Are the Dutch East Indies in the war or out of the war? Are they neutral?