HC Deb 04 April 1944 vol 398 cc1781-2
1. Mr. G. Strauss

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Economic Warfare how long the negotiations have now proceeded with the Spanish and Portuguese Governments for the cessation of wolfram shipments to Germany; and whether meanwhile those countries continue to provide Germany with 40 and 50 per cent., respectively, of her total wolfram supplies.

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

The present negotiations with the Spanish and Portuguese Governments have been in progress for about two months, during which period I understand that no exports of wolfram have been authorised by the Spanish Government. Exports from Portugal to Germany have continued at approximately the same level as in 1943.

Mr. Strauss

Would the Parliamentary Secretary agree that these exports of this vital war material from our Portuguese Ally have already caused the death of thousands of our soldiers, and if con- tinued at the present rate, which is about 20 times greater than before the war, will greatly help the enemy in resisting forth-coming operations?

Mr. Foot

I agree that these exports are of very considerable value to the German war machine.

Mr. Shinwell

If that is so, why this tenderness towards these people? What has gone wrong with the Government? Why cannot they act towards Portugal, as they occasionally act towards the House of Commons?

Mr. James Griffiths

What steps are being taken, in view of the fact that the steps already taken have been inadequate?

Mr. Foot

Ever since 1940, we have, in fact, secured very much larger supplies of wolfram from Portugal than the enemy. I also wish to make it clear that we are far from being satisfied with the present position. We have made our views perfectly clear to the Portuguese Government and I hope that these Questions will make clear to them the views of the House of Commons.

Mr. Shinwell

Is it enough that Members of this House should put Questions, in order to stimulate Portugal? Is it not the job of the Government to do the stimulating?

Mr. R. J. Taylor

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that we have had these answers for a considerable time, and nothing has been done?