HC Deb 07 December 1943 vol 395 cc752-4
8. Mr. Oldfield

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Economic Warfare whether he is aware that the deaths due to hunger in Athens and Piraeus have increased to 1,800 in the month of October; and whether in view of this increase, he will consider allowing more food to be imported into Greece?

Mr. Foot

Precise figures of deaths in Athens and Piraeus during October are not yet available. In the opinion of the Swedish supervisors of the relief scheme the figure of 1,800 deaths resulting from starvation or undernourishment is certainly incorrect. It is possible however that the total number of deaths from all causes during October was in the neighbourhood of 1,800. As regards the second part of the Question the scale of the relief sent to Greece is constantly under consideration but I am not prepared to add to my previous statements on this subject.

Mr. Oldfield

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that as late as 19th November the Greek paper "Hellas" said that these figures were correct?

Mr. Foot

It depends upon what the figures referred to. I have already pointed out that these figures may be correct if they refer to the total deaths from all causes. The information which I have just given to the House is information we have received in response to a special inquiry from the Swedish supervisors of the scheme.

Mr. Harvey

Did not my hon. Friend indicate in a previous statement that he was hoping to increase food supplies to Greece in certain circumstances this winter?

Mr. Foot

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will await the answer to the next Question.

Sir Granville Gibson

Can the hon. Gentleman say whether there has been a large increase in the number of deaths as a result of hunger?

Mr. Foot

It is necessary, of course, to compare each month with the corresponding month last year. If the figure given is correct, it does show a substantially smaller number of deaths in Athens and Piraeus than in October last year, and is considerably smaller than the year before.

9. Mr. Oldfield

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Economic Warfare whether the additional 4,000 tons monthly of meat, fish and rice recently asked for have now been permitted to be included in food shipments to Greece?

Mr. Foot

I do not know what requests the hon. Member has in mind Shipments which have recently left, or are about to leave, Canada include 2,500 tons of rice, though this does not represent an addition to the total volume of the relief cargoes. I regret, however, that I can give no undertaking regarding meat and fish.