HC Deb 09 November 1943 vol 393 cc1083-4
53. Miss Rathbone

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the fact that shortage of shipping is one of the main difficulties impeding the transfer of threatened victims of Nazi persecution to countries of safety, the export of foodstuffs to Greece and especially in sufficient quantities to India, His Majesty's Government have considered releasing shipping for these purposes by reducing imports of tobacco and other luxuries to this country, where the consumption of tobacco is over 20 per cent. greater than before the war?

The Prime Minister

Import programmes are under constant review in relation to the use of shipping for all purposes, including those to which the hon. Lady refers.

Miss Rathbone

Does not my right hon. Friend admit that civilians are able to buy practically all the tobacco they want; and must that not involve a very large amount of shipping, some of which could be diverted for more vital purposes, such as carrying grain to India?

The Prime Minister

No, Sir; the tonnage involved in imports of tobacco bears but a small proportion to the tonnage involved in imports of food.