§ 57. Mr. A. Edwards
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food how much shipping space was used last year for importing each of the following commodities: tobacco, wines and spirits, beer, and other goods not essential to the war effort; what quantity of foodstuffs he estimates could have been carried in the same space; and whether he intends to fix an amount by which these commodities must be reduced in order to ensure adequate space for food supplies?
Major Lloyd George
As previously stated in the House, publication of details relating to our trade statistics has been suspended in the national interest since the outbreak of the war. Consequently no reply can be given to the second part of my hon. Friend's Question. I may explain, however, that in 1940 beer was imported only from Eire in vessels specially constructed for the purpose, which are unsuitable for longer voyages. No wine is now being imported, except for church purposes, unless exporting countries are prepared to provide freight in their own vessels and to allocate a part of that freight for priority goods. The only spirits now being imported are rum for the Navy and Army and a certain amount of high-proof rum for the manufacture of gin. I understand that consideration is at present being given by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade to the import programme for tobacco.
Will not the hon. and gallant Gentleman consult his illustrious father to see the way in which he handled this trade during the last war, how he stood up—against the drink trade —for what was best for the country, and how he considered the country first and the trade afterwards?
Major Lloyd George
I think the Noble Lady will find that the present position compares very favourably with the position during the last war.