HC Deb 29 September 1942 vol 383 cc654-6
27. Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Economic Warfare whether his attention has been called to the increasing mortality among Greek children through lack of milk; and will he take immediate steps to ensure that all possible facilities are made available to the Greek Government to arrange the necessary supplies?

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

While exact statistics are not obtainable, I fear there can be no doubt that an abnormally high death rate prevails among Greek children. It is a reasonable inference that this is partly due to scarcity of milk and fats. Before the war Greece was substantially self-supporting in milk, and a very large exporter of olive oil. My information is that both these commodities have been requisitioned or otherwise acquired on a considerable scale by the occupying authorities, who must, therefore, be held responsible for the present acute shortage. As regards the second part of the Question, my hon. and gallant Friend is aware that the Swedish scheme for the importation and distribution of wheat from Canada has only been in operation for a short time. I cannot give any fresh undertaking as to the future; at least, until the results of this experiment are known.

Sir T. Moore

In regard to milk, is it not true that this milk is available in South America, and that, owing to the fact that the British Government have refused to allow navicerts, it is impossible to get it to Greece?

Mr. Foot

No, Sir; statements in the Press to that effect are misleading. I understand that the supplies of milk are not yet available in South America, and we have received no applications for navicerts.

Mr. Edmund Harvey

Has the attention of the hon. Gentleman been called to statements by the President of the Greek Red Cross that 110,000 out of 300,000 children have died in Athens and Piraeus from starvation, malnutrition, and epidemics since the attack on Greece began, and that there is special need for milk for young children and babies?

Mr. Foot

I pointed out in my original answer that Greece was substantially self-supporting in milk; and that is also true of dairy products generally. We really cannot undertake to make good all the depredations of the Axis Powers.

28. Mr. Harvey

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Economic Warfare whether the ships carrying food relief to Greece are allowed to carry Red Cross markings; if not, whether they are clearly marked by other distinctive markings to remove any excuse for attack; and whether this relief service is now proceeding without interruption?

Mr. Foot

The Swedish relief ships taking wheat to Greece carry Red Cross markings, in addition to Swedish markings, on the hull and deck; they are also fully illuminated at night. This service is proceeding without interruption. The first three ships, which arrived at Piraeus at the end of August, left on 23rd September for the voyage back to Canada. Two more ships arrived at Piraeus on 18th September, and the last three of the ships in this service will be leaving Montreal very shortly.

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