HC Deb 10 March 1942 vol 378 cc908-9
15. Mr. Edmund Harvey

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Economic Warfare whether arrangements have now been made for the despatch of further consignments of food to Greece sufficient in quantity to meet the urgent need of the civilian population?

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Economic Warfare (Mr. Dingle Foot)

As I informed my hon. Friend on 3rd March, by agreement with the Greek Government, His Majesty's Government have financed the chartering by the Swedish Red Cross of the steamship "Hallaren" to help in carrying relief for Greece. Arrangements are now being made for this vessel to load a cargo of 4,500 tons of foodstuffs at Lisbon. This cargo is being purchased from Swiss stocks by the Greek Government in London, and His Majesty's Government are prepared to grant additional navicerts to the Swiss authorities to make good the amount so transferred.

Mr. Harvey

May I take it that the policy of the Government is to do their utmost to see that this supply continues so that the Greek population may be preserved from starvation?

Mr. Foot

As my hon. Friend knows, we have arranged three emergency shipments in order to meet the urgent need in Greece, but I would also like to make it clear that we cannot undertake to make good the whole of the supplies which have been pillaged by the enemy.

Sir Percy Harris

Does my hon. Friend realise the serious urgency of this matter? Is not the time factor most important? Will the Government do their best to expedite the shipments which have been agreed upon?

Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore

Have any arrangements been made to send regular supplies, instead of piecemeal supplies, in order to succour these unhappy people?

Mr. Foot

I would refer the hon. and gallant Gentleman to revious replies I have given on this subject. In answer to my right hon. Friend the Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris), we have done everything possible to expedite these emergency shipments.

Mr. Stokes

Is my hon. Friend aware that in normal times Greece imports 400,000 tons of wheat every year and that the arrangements so far made are entirely inadequate?