§ 1.40 p.m.
§ Sir Arthur Salter (Oxford University)
I want now to bring an entirely different question to the notice of the House. I would like to ask the Government a number of questions about U.N.R.R.A., and what the Government are doing to improve and to help it. A few weeks ago we had an interesting Debate on the general conditions in Europe. I do not wish to traverse the same ground, but very little was then said about U.N.R.R.A., although a considerable part, though only a part, of Europe is within the ambit of U.N.R.R.A.'s authority. I would like to raise these questions now for this reason. In August, the Council of U.N.R.R.A. met and decided upon a considerable extension of U.N.R.R.A.'s responsibility. At the same time they decided by resolution that a considerable extra financial contribution would be required from the contributing countries, in order to enable those responsibilities to be undertaken. Speaking in this House three weeks ago, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs said that the situation would be disastrous unless those new resources—which, according to my information are not yet forthcoming—were rapidly provided.
2571 During the last two years there have been many crticisms of U.N.R.R.A. Many of those criticisms have been well founded. There have been grave defects, some of which have been the fault of U.N.R.R.A. itself and some have been due to causes partly or largely outside the control of U.N.R.R.A. In March this year, I ventured to say that the Governments who had set up U.N.R.R.A. in 1943 had started it too early, organised it too cumbrously, circumscribed it too narrowly and advertised it too enthusiastically.
I also remarked that at that time, 15 months after U.N.R.R.A. had been set up, U.N.R.R.A. was not operating on its own responsibility, apart from a few odd jobs, in any country in Europe. It was inevitable in those circumstances that many mistakes and defects should occur, and they did occur, and that there should be a sense of frustration in the staff of U.N.R.R.A. and in the public generally.
A great deal, however, has happened since then. The responsibility and the work of U.N.R.R.A. have greatly increased. I understand that at this moment U.N.R.R.A. is operating on a great scale in Greece, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia and Poland. It has limited responsibilities in Italy which will soon be greatly increased, and it has worked, although under the overriding responsibility and authority of the military, in regard to displaced persons in Germany. Not only has its actual work at this moment greatly increased but, as I said just now, decisions of the Council contemplate an early and great further extension of its responsibilities. We were all glad in these circumstances to hear the Foreign Secretary say three weeks ago that he had been struck by the remarkable improvement in U.N.R.R.A.'s efficiency during the last two or three months. I hope that generalisation was fully justified, and that the Minister who is to reply to this Debate will be able to amplify that rather general statement.
The point I now wish to make is that, over the very considerable area of responsibility which is and is to be U.N.R.R.A.'s, there is no alternative administration or instrument of action in the winter which is ahead of us. U.N.R.R.A. in that sphere of responsibility, is indispensable. If there are 2572 difficulties they must be removed as far as possible, the one thing we must not do is to allow U.N.R.R.A.'s resources to be in any degree restricted. We must do our best both to help and to improve where improvement is necessary. With that preamble, I wish to ask a number of specific questions of the Government and I apologiseto the House if I seem to be rather producing a questionnaire than a speech, because I think that this form will perhaps economise the time of the House.
In the first place, I would like to ask the Minister of State whether he is able to give us anything in the way of global facts and figures which will indicate the magnitude and scale of U.N.R.R.A's achievements up to date. In the second place, I would like him to say something about the new or increased responsibility of U.N.R.R.A. I will take two which have long been within the ambit of its terms of reference, but on which work is only beginning—and first ask about the Far East. It was liberated much later than Europe. Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us anything about the policy and plans of U.N.R.R.A. with regard to relief and rehabilitation in the Far East? How does the policy differ from what is being done in Europe? What does he contemplate will be the proportion of expenditure which will be involved in the Far East as compared with Europe?
Next, I would like to refer to U.N.R.R.A's. work in regard to displaced persons. U.N.R.R.A. is doing a good deal of work for them, but under the overriding authority of the military authorities. I think the military authorities have done a very remarkable piece of work in returning to their own countries the vast bulk of those allied displaced persons in respect of whom there was no serious political obstacle to their immediate repatriation. That has been the work of the military authorities; U.N.R.R.A. has-been helping to a certain extent under military direction and control and I understand that U.N.R.R.A. is running under military control a certain number of camps. It is, I imagine, contemplated that U.N.R.R.A. will soon take over direct responsibility for dealing with the remaining hundreds of thousands or, it may be more than hundreds of thousands, of these displaced persons. I would like the Minister to 2573 make some statement as to when it will assume direct responsibility and how it will discharge it.
Those who remain among the Allied displaced persons are worthy of very special attention and consideration by the Government. They are, predominantly, the victims of Nazi terror over five or six years. They are the starved and emaciated survivors of a much greater number who have been killed or have died in the course of occupation. They are, and have been for those years of torment, looking forward to allied victory as their one hope, and to many hundreds of thousands of them the fruits of victory must have been as bitter in the mouth as Dead Sea fruit. I do not know how many Members have read the account by Mr. Earl Harrison, published in September, in which he painted a terrible picture of the conditions of the camps in which these victims of Nazi aggression were still being maintained. I believe that since then some improvements have been made. I hope the Minister will be able to give us some information about those improvements. But it remains the case that some hundreds of thousands, and possibly over a million, displaced persons are still left under conditions of restraint in camps, with all the unnatural conditions and restriction of liberty that that implies, and with all the frustration of idleness and disappointed hopes. I do not know whether any wider policy is now being contemplated for the considerable proportion of this million or so who will probably not be capable of repatriation for a long period of two or three years. Is there any plan, for example, for establishing the different racial units in separate island areas where they can develop a free communal life, instead of being left in concentration camps? I will not detain the House by developing the details of a possible scheme of this kind. I have been in communication with the Minister on this and I hope he will now, or a little later, have something to say on the matter.
I turn from the present responsibility, recently enlarged and expanded, of U.N.R.R.A. to the new tasks entrusted to it in August. First, in regard to Italy, where hitherto U.N.R.R.A. had a very limited task—but where it is now to be given the general responsibility for civilian relief. Can the Minister tell us whether that extended work has yet begun? If 2574 not, when is it likely to be begun? Is it waiting on the provision of extra financial resources or what is it waiting for? Can he say anything as to the scale on which action is contemplated? Next, as regards Austria, which in some respects is even more urgent. All the reports indicate that there is already something like mass starvation in Austria. The Council decided that U.N.R.R.A. should take over responsibility for civilians in Austria. Has that work begun? Is U.N.R.A.A. operating? If it is not operating, has it constructed a policy? Finally, it was, I think, decided that U.N.R.R.A. should take on work possibly in Russia, particularly in the Ukraine. There have certainly been proposals that U.N.R.R.A. should extend its relief to some parts of Russia—
The Minister of State (Mr. Philip Noel-Baker): There were applications from the Ukrainian and Byelo-Russian Republics, which were examined and recommended by the Committee which deals with the ability of countries to pay for their relief.
§ Sir A. Salter
The Foreign Secretary, a few weeks ago did refer to the prospect that U.N.R.R.A. would be operating in the Ukraine at an early date. Those are all the questions I wish to ask about U.N.R.R.A.'s recently increased work and new responsibilities.
I would now like to ask something about the character of U.N.R.R.A.'s work. U.N.R.R.A. covers not only relief, but rehabilitation. One of the favourable factors at the conclusion of hostilities was that there had been a great deal less destruction of industrial plant than had previously been feared. That means that there is the possibility of an earlier return to self-supporting production in Europe, when the special soup kitchen or first-aid methods can be replaced by real reconstruction. Can the Minister say to what extent raw materials and spare parts and industrial plant and so on are forming part of U.N.R.R.A.'s programme? Can he say whether, when we get beyond the scope of U.N.R.R.A.'s responsibility for rehabilitation and get to the real task of reconstruction, the Allied Governments are contemplating any further machinery to co-ordinate their aid in this reconstruction?
Many important questions arise as to U.N.R.R.A.'s present work. Can the Minister say anything about the efficiency, honesty and equity of the distribution of 2575 U.N.R.R.A.'s supplies in the countries they are now serving? We have heard a great many tales about U.N.R.R.A.'s supplies getting into the "Black market" or being distributed as political rewards. Can he say anything, distinguishing perhaps between different countries—for example Greece, where we have heard a great deal about U.N.R.R.A. supplies getting into the "black market" and the countries which have something like a totalitarian regime? To take, for example, Yugoslavia, which I will not call exactly a totalitarian country, but perhaps a Titotalitarian country. Can the right hon. Gentleman give any indication of U.N.R.R.A.'s permitted methods of inspection and control which ensures that U.N.R.R.A.'s supplies are going where they should?
That is all I want to ask about U.N.R.R.A. itself. I would now like to ask a series of questions as to His Majesty's Government's contribution. In January, 1944, I think, this Parliament agreed to an allocation of £80,000,000 sterling for U.N.R.R.A., or 1 per cent of our national income. In August of this year the Council indicated that a further 1 per cent. of the national income would be required from each contributing country. I do not know whether an arrangement has been made for the supply of the additional £80,000,000 and how far the first £80,000,000 has been effectively spent.
That brings me to what is in some respects more important than the financial contribution, the releasing of supplies. The £80,000,000 national contribution is only expendable, except for a small fraction, in the contributing country's currency, so that what is in some respects more important to U.N.R.R.A. is that the actual goods should be available. Is the Minister confident that everything has been done and is being done to draw upon military reserves which can be made available? I do not wish to say anything more now about the question of lorries because I realise that a great deal has been done recently to increase their delivery. I do not know whether more can and should be done, but I would put greater emphasis on other forms of supplies. As regards food, the Minister of Food after 2576 the Debate in this House a few weeks ago did make a considerable contribution from military reserves of food. Has he got all that can be got from that source? The House will have seen a restrained notice in the Press as to these releases. I think the Minister of Food was rather unnecessarily coy in his announcement and that, if the right hon. Gentleman had been more explicit, he would have found that there are considerable sections of the public which would not only have supported him in his action, but have encouraged him to further action.
I think that probably the right hon. Gentleman might find further supplies where he has already found some. I am not thinking only of food. There are many other military supplies. I ask the Minister to inquire of the U.N.R.R.A. authorities and of the authorities responsible for other countries, the national Governments or the occupying forces, as to what things they want of a kind which are now in military reserves, and then to satisfy himself personally that everything is being done to make those goods available. I am pretty sure that not everything is being done at present, and that a good deal more could be done in this direction.
I come now to the question of anything that may be available from civilian resources. As I have said before, I am not asking, and I never have asked, that supplies should be sent elsewhere at the cost of reducing the standard rations in this country or at the cost of reducing our stocks here below the point at which the compulsory rations would be endangered. But of course, our stocks here are considerably higher, even though they have been reduced, than they were before the war. I should have been pressing earlier for a considerable withdrawal from these stocks, but for the well known fact that, owing to strikes on both sides of the Atlantic, and owing to the dislocation of the whole of our importation arrangements which has resulted from the sudden cancellation of Lend-Lease, the regularity of our imports, which alone made possible stocks as low as they were in 1937 and 1938, cannot for the time being be relied upon. I quite realise that while there are temporary disturbances to regular imports, the stocks cannot be brought down to the minimum peacetime level. But 2577 what I asked the Minister of Food the other day, and now ask the Minister of State, is whether he will now give an undertaking that the Government will make a farther contribution from the excess of our stocks over peacetime standards as and when importation becomes regular and the temporary disturbances of regular importation disappear. This would involve no reduction of our rations and no danger to them.
That is practically all the long list of questions that I wish to put to the Minister, but there is one last request that I want to repeat. In the last Debate on this subject, I asked the Minister of Food whether he would arrange for the Government to publish a White Paper in which they would summarise, not in voluminous, but in graphic and convenient form, the illuminating information which the Government have in their possession about conditions in different parts of Europe and about the resources in this country and in other countries with which the necessities of Europe could be met. The Minister of Food at first said, "No." Later in the Debate, he said he would consider the matter again, and a little later still the Under-Secretary went a step further. I ask the Minister of State whether he will take a further step now and definitely promise that White Paper. I am sure the Government and the country have everything to gain and nothing to lose in doing so.
I have suggested certain directions in which I think the Government might very well do rather more, but, due regard being had to our relative resources, this country need not fear comparison with any other country. It has nothing but credit to gain by giving an account of this kind. More than that, the action of this Government and of other Governments depends, and must depend, upon the support of their respective publics. The public here and elsewhere has no chance at present of realising what the position really is, what the resources are, and what they may be justly and fairly asked to do. Of course, I do not think for one moment that millions of the public on this side of the Atlantic or on the other would rush to buy a White Paper. But there are other people, writers and correspondents on this side of the Atlantic and on the other side, who would write what the public in their millions would 2578 buy and read, if only there were available to them a convenient mine of information which does not at present exist.
I know that certain parts of such a White Paper would be less complete than others. I am sure that difficulties of that sort could be easily met, and I am sure that a document of the utmost possible value could be produced without any great trouble. I am sure the Government would find themselves supported in what they have done, and supported in the further measures that they will doubtless wish to take. I am sure, too, that the effect would be that across the Atlantic, where there are ampler resources, we should find the writers there, and writers from here for the newspapers there, making a real effort to arouse the latent forces of benevolent good will which are there as amply as the material resources. I appeal to the Minister to consider the publication of such a White Paper.
I do not propose to dilate once more upon the gravity of this problem. The House has shown that it realises the gravity of the situation and the consequences that may arise, and that it is profoundly concerned; and in justice I must add that Members of the Government who have spoken have also shown that they are profoundly anxious. The most tragic feature of this great tragedy that hangs over Europe is that, as history looks back, it will be clearly seen that tragedy, on the scale on which it is likely to occur, was not the inevitable consequence of either material destruction, or of a world shortage of necessities. Much that could have been prevented cannot now be prevented, but even at this moment I am sure it is possible both to alleviate the tragedy and abbreviate it.
§ 2.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Stokes (Ipswich)
I wish to support the plea which my right hon. Friend the Member for Oxford University (Sir A. Salter) has made to the Government to publish as much data as they can, because I am sure, as he said, that this country will stand well in the revelations that are made. It is of vital importance that public opinion should be made to support the policy which the Government would wish to follow, and the only way in which public opinion can be properly created is by ensuring that the facts are 2579 at the disposal of those people who write in the Press, make speeches and carry out other duties for the purpose of informing the public.
I do not propose to follow my right hon. Friend in asking more questions. I feel that he has almost turned this afternoon into Question time for the Minister of State, and that the Minister will find himself hard put to it to answer all the questions before the appointed hour; but there are one or two suggestions I would like to make to the Minister of State. I am glad to see that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food is present, because part of what I wish to say has reference to her Department; I was, indeed, told that the Minister of Food would be here, but I understand I was misinformed. Generally speaking, I want to support what was said by my right hon. Friend about the urgency of giving 100 per cent. support to U.N.R.R.A., and extending its scope. I am told that to carry out these intended obligations is a pretty severe problem, and I realise that, but I would like to see the scope extended to cover all distressed persons, whether enemy or neutral. That, however, may not be practicable. I was particularly struck by the right hon. Gentleman's appeal regarding Austria. Austria, I remember, was one of those places whose freedom and independence was particularly guaranteed in the early stages of the war—at any rate, at one of the conferences which took place while hostilities were still in full swing—and the reports we are receiving from Austria are deplorable.
I propose to confine my remarks to a few suggestions on how we might help further than we are doing already, and here I touch upon the work of the Ministry of Food. I know it is not the fault of this Government that the percentage extraction of flour was reduced from 85 per cent. to 80 per cent. That was done by the previous Government, but the fact remains that that reduction meant the importation of 325,000 tons more wheat for milling. Whatever may be said by the disputants on whether the loaf is better white or better brown, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and the result of the 85 per cent. extraction rate was that the health of the nation was higher than it had ever been. I know that the Nutrition Committee are supposed to have 2580 supported this reduction, but I, frankly, do not believe that they did so. However, as that is to be the subject of another Debate and has nothing to do with the Minister of State, I leave it at that. I am pretty confident that, at the time, the reduction was made for no better reason than to suit the millers' combine, and I shall endeavour to prove that on another occasion. It seems to me that since, as I have said, that reduction meant the loss of 325,000 tons of shipping space and an extra cost of about £1,500,000 a year, some further contribution could be made by going back to the 85 per cent. loaf. I would like to argue that on another occasion.
The second appeal I make to the Government is that they should do all they possibly can to help voluntary efforts that may be made in this country to support U.N.R.R.A. I, with others in this House, have been engaged in trying to arrange for certain credits to be made available in Denmark, in order that surplus food in that country can be given to the starving people of Europe, wherever they may be. The astonishing thing is that, having been spending something of the order of £4,000,000,000 a year in blowing peoples' heads off, we now find the greatest difficulty in getting the Treasury to agree to a paltry £250,000 being sent to Denmark for the purpose of buying food. In Denmark, food is so plentiful that it is literally rotting. They reckon that they have 20,000 head of cattle a week surplus, and have nowhere to send it; they have a proportionate amount of other animals and other kinds of foodstuffs. I appeal to the Government to support the work that U.N.R.R.A. is doing, by stopping this nonsense about the "dead hand" of the Treasury, which at present tries to stop this humane effort. A sum of £250,000 is absolutely nothing, and it is rubbish that any Department should be allowed to stand in the way of any humane contribution which can be made from this country. The whole thing is organised there is no difficulty about it; the Trans-Continental Relief Committee of Denmark are willing to organise and administer it. They are already shipping 100 tons a week, and they want to ship 3,000 tons. Put into tons, to what does this scheme we are trying to arrange amount? It amounts to about 600 tons, or less than one-fifth of what could be sent as relief every week if proper support were 2581 forthcoming. I hope the Government will do all they can to encourage this scheme.
I now come to a very serious criticism of Government policy, and that is that, at this stage in our affairs, they should see fit to increase our own rations. It can of course be said that I, like many other hon. Members of this House, am one of those fortunate people who manage, because the circumstances of our lives enable us to have more food off the ration than most people. That is perfectly true, but that is not what I am getting at. The facts of the matter are these. At this very moment, responsible British people in the occupied territories and elsewhere are reporting that millions of people will die of starvation in Europe this year. At the same moment, it is decided by the Ministry of Food that our rations shall be increased for Christmas. I am not suggesting for a moment that it is a bad thing to give the kids more chocolates—I am all for it—but I do not believe that it is really necessary, in the interests of the health of the population, to increase rations at this time, and it is a thoroughly bad example to the rest of the world. It is suggested that we are to have an extra pound of sugar for the period. That means 45,000,000 pounds of sugar. I know it is not very much—2,000 tons—and I am sure a very large number of the people of this country would be willing to go without it, if it could be sent to support the good work that U.N.R.R.A. is doing. It would be all to the good, and I think it would be better used.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Oxford University talked about our reserves, and the disclosure thereof. I can never understand the timidity of the Government in dealing with this matter. Why should they not tell us what the reserves are? I hope our Government will not persist in this attitude. I understand why the Tories did so; it was perfectly obvious, and nobody on this side needs to be told. But why we should do it, I cannot understand. The Americans know about this. I was talking to a very responsible American the other day, and he told me what our reserves are. Of course, his figures may be wrong, but this is what is going round America. It is said that our reserves at the present time are, at least, three times as great as they were at the outbreak of war. He put our reserves at no less than 4,000,000 tons of food, and he told me at the same time, that something 2582 like 960,000 tons more food are coming from America to this country between that date—it was about 1st October—and Christmas. I do not know whether it is true or not, but they say it is. They are certainly telling the American public so. Why should we not know? If the amount is lower, all right; if it is higher, it does not do any harm to tell us.
§ Sir A. Salter
Not only have the stock figures been given to the American Government but there was a publication—I think the Minister would confirm this—in the "New York Times" some time ago; I forget the exact date. I think the Minister of Food said the other day that since that time there has been a reduction of our stocks of something like 1,500,000 tons. If that is so, even from the point of view of public opinion in other countries, would it not be better to publish at any rate global figures of our stocks, rather than leave the American public with the impression that our stocks are as high as they were before that reduction?
§ Mr. Stokes
I am most obliged to my right hon. Friend for his intervention. I leave it at that. I hope the Minister will give us some sort of reply leading us to expect that the British public will be allowed to know the truth. I remember that, all through the war, my complaint against the Tory Ministers and the Government was that the only people they would not tell were the British. The Government would always tell everybody else, but they did not take the British public into their confidence. I want to support my claim that this increase of rations is not necessary by a few figures, and then I shall have finished. I recollect one of those tremendous speeches made by the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), about the beginning of the fourth year of the war, in which he was rightly, extolling the magnificent effort made, by the Ministry of Food and the Administration generally to maintain the health of the public and satisfy their appetites. Two of the things he said struck me particularly. He said:At the commencement of this, the fourth year of the world war, more people in Scotland are getting three square meals than ever did in peace time.He went on to say, talking of the children in Glasgow—the particular age group I do not recall, but I think it was the 13-year-olds: 2583They are on the average three pounds heavier than they were before the war.I remember pointing out this, in this House, shortly afterwards, and adding, "fattening them for the slaughter, I suppose." It did not go down very well with the Opposition, but it was typical of their philosophy—and I say that with the greatest offence possible. Now, what have we? We are at the end of the sixth year of war. I have some figures here which are most interesting. Some people say that weare badly fed, that we are starving. I agree that there is not variety, and that everybody would like more; there is no argument about that. But these are the figures. Infant mortality, in 1939, was 51 per 1,000, and in 1944 it had fallen to 46 per 1,000.One can argue that there were fewer births, but I do not think that that comes into it. In 1939 maternal mortality was 3.1 per thousand, and in 1944 it had fallen to 1.95; still births were 38 per 1,000, and in 1944 they were down to 28 per1,000. I know that that is not conclusive evidence, but the figures were brought forward in order to show the additional advantages the people, as a whole, had enjoyed as a result of the administration of the Ministry of Food. It had greatly improved the health of the country and the figures were used to emphasise the fact, which we all know, that the antenatal effect on the child is very great indeed.
There is no excuse whatever for this increase at the present time. What do we find across the Atlantic? At this moment, when literally thousands of people are starving in Europe, the Americans are sending empty boats over here to fetch back their own troops, and yet committees are sitting in the United States to restrict production of food. The whole world has gone crazy, and I believe that if the public here and in America knew the facts they would not stand for it. I am not speaking about starving Germans, as certain sections of the Press said yesterday, but of the people in Europe of whatever nationality. It is a disgrace to the Press that they should quote Members of this House wrongly. If they had had my postbag this morning they would feel as hot about it as I do, and would not make it appear as if one were appealing only for one section. I 2584 am upset because of the terrible suffering that humanity is enduring all over the world, and in Europe particularly. I do not mind whether the women and children who suffer are in Germany, Italy or France, or in Timbuctoo; I want to see this, country do all it possibly can to alleviate that suffering. The more widely the position is known, I hope the greater the response will be.
§ 2.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Edelman (Coventry, West)
I want very briefly to urge the extension of the U.N.R.R.A. medical relief to Germany. At the beginning of the week I was in Berlin. I was there not as a peripatetic Parliamentarian but as a war correspondent, an occupation which I have followed for several years and a capacity in which I have been able to see some of the devastation of war in many parts of the world. I have seen it in Africa and in Western Europe. In Berlin, the aftermath of war is more horrible in this aspect, than in any part of Europe or of Africa. Berlin is a corpse of a city—a corpse which is still liable to breed infection, which, unless, we control it, will spread throughout Europe and possibly throughout the world. We know that our own military authorities, in conjunction with the Control Commission, are doing miracles in order to help the civil population in the cause of humanity, and also in the cause of our troops who are occupying the country. I was able to see the tail end of the Operation Stork. Those operations consist of the evacuation of children from Berlin into the countryside so that in the coming winter—a winter which, incidentally, has already begun—they will have the opportunity of being fed and of having some of the warmth they would be denied in Berlin. These children, for the most part orphans, all of them otherwise destitute, have been cared for by our military authorities, and the large part of the 25,000 who were to be evacuated have now been sent out into the Hanover region and into other rural parts of Germany, where they will be kept. That has been carried out under the supervision of the military authorities.
But we know that the Army is not organised to look after a civilian population. The Army has certain services, such as its sanitary and medical services, 2585 which, under certain conditions, can care for the civilian population; but faced with the enormous problem of caring for the health of literally millions of Germans, our Army is not able to do so. Therefore, it is absolutely essential that there should be some kind of civil administration, seconding the efforts of the Army in order to see that in this coming winter Germany does not become a centre from which those diseases which have already appeared—typhoid, diphtheria and influenza—may spread into the rest of Europe. Already we know that in Berlin the ordinary water from the taps cannot be drunk in its natural condition because typhoid is raging. Diphtheria is common; and influenza, particularly owing to the fact that there is almost no form of heating in Berlin, is something which is liable to spread on a massive scale, similar to the way it spread after the last war.
I went to one of the refugee centres—a refugee transit camp in the Kruppstrasse, Spandau, where I saw some of the refugees who had come from the East and were in transit to the West. I would like to say, in parenthesis, that of these refugees, about 80 per cent. were evacuees who had originally gone from Western Germany and taken refuge in Eastern Germany, and were now trying to return to their homes and were passing through Berlin in transit. The remaining 20 per cent. were people who came from East Prussia and Silesia because they did not like, or, for various reasons, feared, the Russians. That was approximately the proportion which I found by personal conversation with the refugees; but it was confirmed by the military authorities who have charge of refugees and displaced persons. In the refugee transit camp in the Kruppstrasse there were 3,000 people herded together under conditions, which, I am sure, have not existed outside concentration camps—certainly not as bad as concentration camps but almost as bad. I was standing in a very dark corridor where all sorts of shadowy shapes lay crowded together on the floor, and I asked the camp commandant to show me a dormitory or a living room. He looked around him and said, "This is a living room."
That is the condition in which these refugees are living today. I went to the sick room, and there, also, I saw these Germans, who were lying about, very close to each other, covered, if they were 2586 lucky, with blankets, or, otherwise, with any kind of material which they were able to find. Most of them were suffering from respiratory affections, which require, in normal conditions, the most careful nursing, and above all warmth, if they are to becured. I asked the sister in charge what she was short of, and she said that she was short of everything. That is literally the condition of these people who are today sick in Germany from infectious diseases which will not be confined to Germany unless they are controlled.
I therefore suggest that the Government should invite U.N.R.R.A. either to alter its constitution so that medical teams can go into Germany in order to look after these sick people, or, alternatively, if it is impossible to alter the constitution of U.N.R.R.A. in that way, U.N.R.R.A. should be invited to release part of the £1,000,000 worth of blankets now lying in America waiting to be sent to this country for use in Europe when conditions may require them. I submit that conditions require them immediately—not tomorrow, not next month, but immediately. These blankets are available, and if part of this £1,000,000 worth of blankets was released so that these people sick in Germany today, could be properly nursed under proper conditions, it might mean that the balance of that £1,000,000 worth of blankets would not be necessary for Europe, because the infections would not have spread from Germany. It is equally clear that, if these people suffering from infectious diseases are not given proper attention, so that these diseases can be controlled, £1,000,000 worth of blankets will not be adequate to get the sick restored to health, because the infection will have spread through Europe.
Therefore, I hope that we will recognise that Germany cannot be isolated from Europe, and that every child that dies in Germany through infectious disease may be duplicated in other parts of Europe to which these infectious diseases may spread. I believe that there will be very few people who will not be responsive to the call of humanity, but, if there are some who are not responsive to that call, then I am sure that even they may be responsive to the call of self-protection. Therefore, because of the motive of self-protection against what may come out of Germany—which, at the present time, is 2587 a breeding ground of contagion and infection—and, above all, because the German people are human beings like ourselves, I would urge that we invite U.N.R.R.A. to do everything possible immediately—at least, to send medical teams to Germany, to release medical supplies, and to release blankets, so that disease in Germany this winter may be controlled.
§ 2.34 p.m.
§ Mr. Crossman (Coventry, East)
My hon. Friend the Member for West Coventry (Mr. Edelmann) has been discussing a country for which U.N.R.R.A. has not assumed responsibility. I want to turn to a country where U.N.R.R.A. has assumed responsibility, but in which almost nothing has been done, and to which reference has been made by the Senior Burgess for Oxford University (Sir A. Salter). I feel that, before U.N.R.R.A. assumes further responsibilities, we must take into account this particular country. I remember that, during the war, I used to broadcast to Austria, and we used to drop leaflets over the country, promising the Austrians independence and that they would be cared for if they did their part as part of the United Nations, and I cannot help thinking that this House ought to look at the condition of Vienna and the Austrian countryside today. What has Austria got, instead of the independence we promised? She finds herself divided into four absolutely separated zones, making any sort of economic life totally impossible. She has had imposed on her something up to1,000,000 foreign soldiers to defend her from Heaven knows what, and this instead of the independence which we, day after day over the B.B.C. and night after night through British leaflets, promised that desperate and pitiable country.
I ask that the Minister of State should give the House an assurance today that U.N.R.R.A. will not only assume responsibility for Austria but will do something about it now, in the next few weeks, before this winter is fully upon us. I have had some connection with the Socialists of Vienna. After the last war and the incredible suffering which Vienna went through, a beautiful and great town was created in Central Europe—a town in a unique position, because it bound together the West and 2588 the East, a town which was a meeting place between the currents of thought from Communist Russia and from us over here. The resurrection of Vienna is not something we plead for only in the name of humanity. We plead for it because of its importance for promoting a peaceful and united Europe and because of the contribution which Vienna can make in helping to keep the peace of Europe. We permitted Vienna to rebuild herself, but we also permitted her once again to be betrayed through the Nazis. I feel that the Western nations have a special responsibility, through U.N.R.R.A., for looking after the Austrian people.
May I turn now to a country adjacent to Austria—Yugoslavia—and here there is a different point to make to the Minister of State. After the last war, one of the disasters was the suspicion—I am afraid very often confirmed—that food was supplied as a political lever to countries which were "good" from the point of view of the nation which supplied the food. If one wanted to suppress a Left-Wing rising in a country, one did not supply them with rations that would enable them to survive. For good or ill, and here I plead guilty in a small way, as a journalist, for an article which I wrote some weeks ago, the impression has gone abroad that, whereas the Western Powers have poured food into Greece, very little went into Yugoslavia. I did go into the matter, and I think there are good and convincing reasons which were given to us indicating that it was partly the Yugoslav suspicions of the conditions under which U.N.R.R.A. officials came into their country which slowed up supplies of food. Unfortunately, the suspicion is very widespread indeed in Eastern Europe that U.N.R.R.A. is supplying much more food, proportionately, to Greece than to Yugoslavia, and conclusions are drawn from that which are wholly disadvantageous to collaboration between the West and the East in Europe. I very much hope that the Minister of State can officially and categorically give the lie to the suggestion that we are in any way denying supplies to Yugoslavia on account of political reasons or dislike of the regime.
May I say one word on another subject which has not been mentioned this afternoon? When we were going forward in Germany and releasing the people in 2589 the concentration camps, we found that not only were they needing physical food and clothing but, as the Foreign Secretary said the other day, the blackout of the soul was almost as important as physical starvation, and the complete deprivation of books, of reading materials, of wireless, was almost as fatal to the people in these camps as the shortage of food which they had suffered—indeed, in certain ways it was more fatal, because it had strengthened by 100 per cent. the Nazi propaganda which was being put into the camps to divide the people from each other. Has the Minister of State anything to tell us about the work which is being done, on however small a scale, to help these unfortunate people, who are perforce cooped-up still in Germany in semi-concentration camp conditions, from the point of view of the supply of books, of wireless sets, of the possibilities of camp newspapers— things which are so enormously important to people who have been in prison spiritually all those years? Right at the beginning, when we were opening up in Germany, we had 24 Flying Fortresses at our disposal and we were able to distribute 2,000,000 copies of a four-language newspaper every day by air in bundles to these camps. It is a strange comment that, when one gets back to peacetime, such services are dispensed with or called impossible. But it should be done by land if it is not possible to use Flying Fortresses. The last time I was travelling in Europe I had a suspicion that that side of the work tended to be neglected because of the overwhelming pressure of food and clothing. I believe, however, that a certain amount of that is as important as food and clothing to these people. Particularly because of their inability to work, they need mental activity and the means for mental activity in those camps.
Finally, may I speak on the subject of food and rations raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes)? I rather wish the subject had not been raised this afternoon because I think it is really irrelevant, but, since it has been raised, I think that those of us who differ from him have a duty to say why we differ. The other day a very wise man reminded me of a saying of an elder Socialist, that one of the most common and tragic mistakes of Socialists is to legislate as though the rest of the country were Socialists; that the greatest danger of all 2590 is to believe that one's own ideals are always automatically shared by everybody else. I believe that in this particular matter of the small extra grant of rations for Christmas, the Minister of Food has probably done a wise thing in terms of the production of this country. I think it was a wise thing to recognise the fact in a small way at Christmas time that the people in this country, after six years of war, are at peace.
§ Mr. Stokes
May I interrupt my hon. Friend? I do not object in the slightest to his disagreeing with me. I was not trying to say that people would not like to have more; I said that if the country really knew the facts, a very large majority of the people would be only too willing to give up the extra ration.
§ Mr. Crossman
It was that view of the hon. Member for Ipswich which I was begging leave to doubt, and whether the Government would be wise to legislate from that point of view. I do not think we fully realise the lack of variety in our food, and the effect on production in this country—at least in the constituency I represent—of the deadly monotony of the food which the people are receiving. The value of this small extra ration is not so much the extra quantity of calories. Rather it is the effect of a little extra for Christmas on production.
The second thing I want to say is this—and it follows on something which the right hon. Member for Oxford University raised. Some hon. Members talk as though no sacrifice has been made by this country, but, compared with countries like the United States—indeed, compared with any country in the world—what has been given by this country already in the cause of Europe is unbelievable.
§ Sir A. Salter
I do not differ from him. One of the main reasons why I wish to have a really accurate and comprehensive White Paper is that it would incidentally bring out the extent of what we have done.
§ Mr. Crossman
I was just coming to that point. I think we can afford to give this little extra at Christmas, when we bear in mind what has been given already, and will be given in the future by this country and by the Minister of Food. I was privileged to be a member of a deputation which visited him the other day, and as I sat there I began to wonder 2591 whether in any other country in the world there could be a Debate in which, in a friendly way, a Minister of Food was pressed, and had to defend himself, on the subject of whether he should keep this food for the British people. It is a thing of which we can be proud, that in this country the Minister of Food is under constant pressure to cut down what he has in reserve. He was asked, "Have you really scraped the bottom of the barrel?" and he said, "Yes, I really have scraped it." It would be very misleading if any hon. Member gave any other impression than that.
I would like to ask also whether in telling this great story of what we as a country have done already in cutting down our stocks to the minimum, we will remember the fact that next year we shall not get all the wheat we want, and that for this reason we have to maintain stocks for next year. Could not we have this story told to make us proud this Christmas of what we have given away? As members of that deputation know, there would have been a considerably greater special ration this Christmas if we had not given food away, and that fact everyone of us, and everybody in the country, has the right to know this Christmas. Everybody in America and in Europe has the right to know that we are in fact scraping the bottom of the barrel, and that our rations are only the bare minimum to maintain production, if, indeed, it is the bare minimum for that purpose. Those facts must be known in the world if weare to get our contribution to U.N.R.R.A., and to our vast problem of feeding Europe, in the right perspective.
§ 2.46 p.m.
§ Miss Rathbone (Combined English Universities)
Five minutes ago I had not intended to intervene in this Debate, and I want to do so now only for the purpose of disputing with the hon.. Member for East Coventry (Mr, Crossman) about certain points of fact. He gave an account of a deputation which went recently to the Minister of Food. I also was on that deputation, and I would remind him that the deputation was not for the purpose of arguing with the Minister to cut our rations, or even not to give extra food at Christmas; it was to put in our plea that those of the British public who wished to do so, and who felt they could 2592 afford to do so, should be allowed to make some voluntary sacrifice for the starving people of Europe. He did not give that impression—
§ Mr. Crossman
I think the hon. Lady is thinking of a different deputation. The one at which I was present was solely concerned to see whether any food could be spared for Europe.
§ Miss Rathbone
I beg the hon. Member's pardon. I had forgotten there were two deputations. Nevertheless, I still quarrel with him because I think he completely underrates the strength of the wish, and the right of the people who express it, that they should be allowed to show either generally to the community of which they are members, or through voluntary sacrifices by individuals, their deep sense of responsibility for what is happening in Europe. The hon. Member talked a good deal about how we need more cheer, and the Minister of Food several times described our present diet as a "semi-diet." There has also been the discussion in the columns of "The Times" as to whether our nutrition was adequate, in which it seemed to me that those who said it was at present inadequate got the worst of it.
The point I want to make is this: For God's sake do not let us forget that we are a democratic people with a long training in the whole technique and morale of democracy. That is what gives us, to an extent to which I do not think any other country has—not even the United States—that deep sense of responsibility for what our Government does and what happens in the world. I think this is one of the most precious traditions that we have. There is all this talk about saving of diet, and about how people want a little extra at Christmas. I think that the children may want a few extra sweets, but are we such a nation of greedy beasts that we want to be reminded of the significance of Christmas by getting a few extra ounces of sweets? It is a very important thing to have a well-nourished nation; it is still more important to have a nation whose imagination and conscience are so sensitive that they cannot bear to rejoice in Christmas so long as they feel that not only tens of thousands but millions of people are to suffer. Some of these people are ex-enemies, if you like, but they include people who had to fight as we 2593 never fought—the anti-Nazi Germans who fought, long before we did.
I get letters every day from my constituents—and I am proud of my constituents—and hardly ever is there a letter which does not say, "Do tell us what we can do; do tell us that we can do something to help these people of starving Europe." I had a letter only this morning, which said, "How can I sleep in my warm bed at night, when I think what the mothers, children and old people in Germany are suffering just now?" I think it is a precious thing that they have this sense of responsibility, because I think that is what has helped to make our nation great. I should despair of our nation if I thought that its people were thinking more of what little extra luxuries they could scrounge, than they were of their responsibilities for their fellow Christians, for the people of the liberated areas, for their ex-enemies, because we are a Christian nation after all, or are supposed to be. Let us keep that tradition, because it is a very precious one.
§ 2.53 p.m.
§ Flight-Lieutenant Haire (Wycombe)
I want to add my voice to those of hon. Members who have appealed to the Minister of State to extend the ramifications of U.N.R.R.A. There is a danger in the House, I think, for us to regard only the distress we find near us. I would like to turn to those parts of Europe of which we know little. I have heard hon. Members in this House ask, "What is happening beyond the iron curtain of Europe?" I would like to tell them that there are distress and starvation, cold and suffering happening there, as in the rest of Europe. I personally find it difficult to draw frontiers in Europe, and to say that U.N.R.R.A. shall help here, and not there. I find it extremely difficult to draw distinctions between nationalities where it is a question of starvation and suffering which is at stake.
We have been told by many Members that starvation and famine are threatening Europe this winter, and that millions will die. I have come back from South-East Europe, and I am convinced that many people there will suffer death this winter, as many as will die in Berlin and elsewhere. I wish to appeal to the Minister to consider whether it is not possible, 2594 taking into account the limited resources we have at our disposal, and the limited food supplies and transport, to look upon the problem of starvation in Europe as a whole, and not as so many isolated areas where he can give help.
I would like to refer to the case of Hungary. In the capital city, there is complete destruction, and with it a breakdown in the distribution of food. There are bread queues to be seen in all the streets, and lack of food in the cafes and restaurants. In the factories and other organisations which have their own food supplies, managers and others organise parties to go into the country to try to get food, and they bring it back and distribute it among the workers. There is a complete lack of glass, with the result that a great many of the houses and flats are entirely without windows, and this winter a great many people must die of cold. This is a consideration which no one has mentioned before today. I would like to put it forward when we realise that in Hungary the war was fought over the whole of that area, and the country, once called "the breadbasket of Europe," is now so completely devoid of wheat resources that the Minister of Food of Hungary told me that he could not see how starvation could be prevented by December. In the large towns of that country starvation is likely to come in December. Equally, when one thinks of this great area, which once used to be crowded with livestock, and realises that the war has reduced its capital of cattle from 2,250,000 head to less than 500,000, and that the war destroyed something like 85 per cent. in toto of its horses, sheep, and pigs, one realises that here is a country that has been hit very hard by the war.
Let us not take an isolationist view of Europe at the present time, but let us see the whole picture; and I appeal to the Minister to attempt to spread the efforts of U.N.R.R.A. in this direction. Hon. Members have mentioned Italy. In Southern Italy I saw distress, the like of which I have never seen elsewhere. I appeal to the Minister, as U.N.R.R.A. is developing its attention in that direction, greatly to speed up the help which is being given.
In connection with rations, I do not want to raise the question of rations in 2595 this country, but I have the feeling that we might reconsider the rations given to the Armed Forces of the United Nations in Europe. In Vienna, when I was there, I was of the opinion that some of the Armed Forces were receiving rations fax in excess of their needs. I think we should appeal to the American forces to reconsider, whether in fact they have not got rations—very much higher than ours as most hon. Members know—very much in excess of what they themselves require. It was agonizing to me to eat some of these rations, when I knew that outside, in the streets of Vienna, there were people obviously starving. When I was having a meal there I was feeling hungry, because I had had no lunch that day, but I could not do justice to the dinner put in front of me by the people giving me hospitality in an American transit hotel. Will our Transport Command officials reconsider whether they are not giving too much in the way of rations to people who are passing through? There are many staging posts en route to South-East Europe, and each of these give you a ticket for another meal. Is it realised that I could in the course of one day have had probably 10 meals? No one questioned whether I had had lunch or not. Tickets were given out freely to all who came for them. I ask hon. Members to realise that because obviously there must be a leakage of food there, and every little is going to count this winter.
I appeal to the Minister to draw the attention of the authorities to that, to see if we cannot build up some sort of supply. Every little will help. Transport is one of the difficulties. If we can increase the transport services of South-East Europe that will also help. Only one aeroplane goes from Italy to Hungary, and the only entrance into Hungary is by air. Our supplies can go there by only one aeroplane a week. In the case of Bulgaria, it is one aeroplane a week; in the case of Rumania two aeroplanes a week. How can we get supplies to these countries in South-East Europe, if it is not by an increase of transport facilities? Therefore, I would suggest that we take up with the Russian authorities, who, as the occupying authorities in South-East Europe, have the main responsibility, the question of the extension of U.N.R.R.A. I know that the people living in South-East Europe would greatly welcome it. I 2596 believe that hon. Members, with that display of humanitarianism and democracy in its best sense, would welcome the development of U.N.R.R.A. over the whole of Europe, so that it can survive the difficult and dreadful winter which is ahead of it.
§ 3.2 p.m.
§ Mr. Charles Williams (Torquay)
Everyone who has listened to a large part of this Debate, as I have, must have been deeply impressed by speeches, such as the one just made by the hon. and gallant Member for Wycombe (Flight-Lieutenant Haire), and by hon. Members who have been able to go out and see these things for themselves, and to come back and help us with the fruits of their knowledge. The speech of the hon. Member for East Coventry (Mr. Crossman) showed a great balance of judgment of what is possible and what is needed at the present time. It struck me that, after all, we have to deal with this matter from the practical angle as to how much help we can give. I believe that in this country today there is a great realisation of the facts in Europe as a whole. The men coming back from the Forces have spread the knowledge to a considerable extent. There are also large numbers of people in this country—a large number in my division to give an example—who have considerable knowledge and considerable information from friends and relatives out there. The position, so far as this country is concerned, is that we want to help to the fullest possible extent. That is common ground which has emerged from the Debate so far.
There are two suggestions I wish to make. Both have already been made to a limited extent. In the first place, I think it is right that there should be a great deal more publicity, not only in this country but abroad, as to what we have sent and given up from this country. It has been very large. I get letters complaining that some of us look as though we were well fed and others look less well fed, but the fact remains that we cannot cut indefinitely. There is also that section of the community which has suffered most in relation to food throughout the war, the small household, where there is a spinster or two old people, or two young people for that matter, living in a house by themselves. Very often they fare worse than anyone else. Nothing can 2597 be done to reduce the general ration at the present time. In our interests, and the interests of Europe and of other nations, we should make clear to the world over and over again how much we are giving to Europe. If we do that it will be a help in more ways than one.
Something further needs to be done. I want to ask the Government whether it is possible—I have constituents who put this point of view to me—to organise in this country voluntary gifts to help U.N.R.R.A. and Europe, where necessary. It may not be possible, it may well not be practicable, but the idea has run through several speeches already, and it is for the Government to give a definite lead, and say whether it is possible or practicable. If it is possible it might help. I do not intend to throw cold water on or to praise the idea. I do not know, only the Government can say, if it is possible. There is transport and there are various bodies such as friendly societies and religious bodies, who would be glad to know whether they can do something to help an organisation of that kind. There is also the question of whether some of the ability and organising capacity which we have seen displayed today and on other occasions might not be used for the purpose of collecting food for Europe. The country should be told whether that is a practical way of doing it or not. If it is, let us get on with it. If not, the sooner the kindly people who think it is possible are told, the better for the country. Do not let us have the secrecy that we seem to be having about so many of these things. I thought that was confined to the wicked Tories. Do let us know if it is possible to do more in a voluntary way.
§ 3.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Peter Freeman (Newport)
I rise to reinforce the appeal already made on behalf of the people of Europe. I have also been to many countries referred to today—Germany, Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and other countries—and I can speak with a certain amount of experience of what is happening. I wish particularly to appeal on behalf of Austria, because that country stands somehow in a rather peculiar and unusual position in this matter. It was made clear at the Potsdam Conference that there should be no discrimination, either of nationality or race, between those who 2598 would receive help and rehabilitation, but it happens the Council of U.N.R.R.A., before they can take effective action, must apparently secure an invitation from the country concerned. Where a country like Austria has not yet been recognised as a country, by the authorities concerned, it is unable to make such an appeal. As a result, no appeal has yet been made that Austria should receive the help of U.N.R.R.A. That is partly because the Allied Council working in Austria have not given an invitation, or have not seen fit to find it necessary to give one.
No one who has gone there can fail to realise the urgent necessity for Austria to receive some help from the U.N.R.R.A. organisation. If the Minister can make representations to the Allied Council in Vienna that they themselves shall give an invitation, that might be the first step. No one in Austria, except certain displaced persons, has received any help from U.N.R.R.A. When one sees the help Austria needs, and the incredible conditions there, and remembers the fact that she was one of the first of Hitler's victims and has suffered almost as much as any other country—one realises she is a country that needs the greatest and most effective help. If, therefore, the Minister could bring whatever pressure he could on the Allied Council in Vienna to meet and make an official application, this would set things going so that it would not be long before effective help could be given to Austria. There has been too long a delay and this red tape does not seem to be necessary. It is essential that the Minister should, if he can, bring effective pressure to bear in this direction.
§ 3.11 p.m.
§ Lieutenant Herbert Hughes (Wolverhampton, West)
I would not have intervened in this Debate if it had not taken a line which I feel I must strengthen if possible, because of my own experiences in Western Europe, because of reports which I have just received from field workers in U.N.R.R.A. itself, and because I was talking to a field worker straight back from a displaced persons' camp in Germany last week. He was describing the frustration that so many U.N.R.R.A. workers are feeling. This frustration seems to arise from the fact that U.N.R.R.A. appears to them, at any rate, to be very low down on the list of priorities, and 2599 they feel all the time that whatever U.N.R.R.A. wants, whether it be transport or whether it be even a screw-driver, they are battering their heads against a brick wall. The military authorities seem to be far better off than they are, and the U.N.R.R.A. workers find great difficulty in getting what supplies they have. She described to me the conditions in this displaced persons' camp, the peoples of which camp were, of course, our Allies.
There is an appalling shortage of clothing. One of the first things that the Second Army noticed when it went into Germany was the amazingly high standard of clothing in Germany, compared with the conditions that they had seen in Holland, in Belgium and in this country. It looked to most of us who have seen these Allied countries that the German population were out in their national garb, in their best Sunday clothes, to welcome the British Army coming in but, of course, the German population had pretty well looted the rest of Europe for clothing.
I know that there have been a certain number of levies on the German population since that time, but in view of the standard of clothing of the people in these displaced persons' camps, I wonder why it is not possible to make further levies on the people of Germany, particularly in the countryside; not in the big cities where they have suffered so much from bombing. I was told that in this displaced persons' camp there were two to three families, men, women and children, living in one room, and I ask if something cannot be done to billet these people on the German countryside. She described how the men and women were using rows of open latrines, and all the difficulties that that was causing; how the schools that they had got running were having to be closed down because of the lack of fuel; how these people were demonstrating and asking to go back to their own countries. There was no hope of their getting back to their own countries because of the lack of transport. She also told me how the only hospital facilities obtainable fell well below the level of the old-fashioned and worst type of casual ward in this country. That is about our Allies.
I think one of the most important things that has been said during this Debate is that we should get away from 2600 discriminating between nationalities in this problem of Europe, that the administration of this problem was being held up and crippled all the time by authorities asking, before they would give any help, whether this was an ex-enemy or whether the other was an ex-Ally. The situation in Europe today is too desperate for that kind of red tape to hold up our administration any longer. This is a problem of humanity and we have to deal with it as that sort of problem. I saw the refugees coming into Berlin from the East, and I saw what was happening in one of the reception stations. The conditions there are absolutely deplorable. They reminded me of the London tube shelters in the very early days of the blitz before our Civil Defence organisation had got the situation in hand properly. The only difference, of course, was that our people were just going down for the night while they had been living under these conditions for weeks at an end. All these families had nowhere to go and they did not know when they would have to move on. The only food supplies during the day consisted of one bowl of weak soup in the middle of the day and a cup of coffee and perhaps a biscuit at night. These people were German refugees and consequently U.N.R.R.A. had not tackled the problem at all. The German Red Cross organisation was doing what it could, faced as it was with enormous shortages of supplies and so on. But this is not a problem only of refugees. In Berlin it is a problem of the whole of the child population. I saw something of what they were trying to do to get the children to school and to keep them off the streets. But you cannot give children education in schools without windows and when they have not had enough to eat. That is an impossible problem.
My constituency is what one might almost describe as being in the Middle West of this country, and you would hardly expect them to be particularly interested in what is happening in Central Europe. However, I have had a voluntary petition signed by hundreds of people asking if it is not possible for them voluntarily to surrender a certain amount of their points or of their surplus food to help starving Europe. I wish to join my voice to those of the hon. Gentlemen who have spoken before me. We appre- 2601 ciate very much what the Minister of Food has done. No one wants the rations of our people to be reduced, but if people voluntarily wish to contribute their little mite to help this enormous problem of Europe, by surrendering things of which they feel they have a surplus, I ask whether the Government cannot help them by giving facilities to get the clothing or the food or whatever it may be across to Europe. By what we do in this we shall be judged in the years to come.
§ 3.19 p.m.
§ The Minister of State (Mr. Philip Noel-Baker)
I wish to begin by expressing my gratitude to the Senior Burgess of Oxford University (Sir A. Salter) for raising this Debate this afternoon. It has been plain from what has been said by Members in all parts of the House that this is in no way a party issue. I know the Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton), if he had not spoken on an earlier subject, would have spoken on this, and would have given his support to the work on which U.N.R.R.A. is engaged.
The right hon. Gentleman the Senior Burgess for Oxford University has asked me many questions. Of some of them I have made an intelligent anticipation, but of others I had less knowledge and had to obtain such information as I could. In any case, he set me a formidable task, but I will try to give him, and other hon. Members, the best answers I can. I hope the House will bear with me for what may be a far longer reply than I had intended to make and if it turns out to be extremely dull. In any case I could not deal today with many of the points raised by my hon. Friends the Members for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) and Wycombe (Flight-Lieutenant Haire), and I think the same is true of what has been said by the hon. Gentleman theMember for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) about voluntary gifts. It is a very important but very complicated matter. Voluntary gifts must, of course, affect the rationing system of the country. Whatever is said for the Government should, I think, be said by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Food, or by others with a different authority from mine.
§ Mr. Charles Williams
Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves that point, may I ask him if he would use his good influ- 2602 ence to urge the Government to allow a voluntary system or organisation of that sort? Would he view that proposal sympathetically?
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
What I should have said, and what in fact I had in my notes, was that I will secure the fullest consideration of all these proposals—indeed, they are already under consideration—by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Food, and by any other Minister who may be concerned. Equally, I would make a mistake if I attempted to deal with the question of a possible White Paper. I am not prejudging that issue one way or the other, I am only saying that a White Paper, if published, would have to go far beyond the work done by U.N.R.R.A., and as U.N.R.R.A. will occupy my attention quite enough this afternoon, I do not propose to touch upon that subject.
It is just three weeks since the House had a very valuable Debate, again on the initiative of the Senior Burgess for Oxford University, on the nightmare conditions with which Europe will be faced this coming winter. Today we are debating the agency by which we hoped that this suffering might be prevented. That does not mean that U.N.R.R.A. has failed. It means, I think, that the war went on too long, that the destruction of transport was too complete, that the pillage of the countries by the Nazis was too systematic, that the government and administration of those countries was too thoroughly undermined; in other words, that the problem was greater in scale than was foreseen two years ago. But I think I shall be able to show that U.N.R.R.A. is playing a great part in places where the situation has been, and is, at its very worst, and that, without it, with its large-scale and carefully planned assistance and its expert helpers, the chances of Europe coming through this winter without grave disaster would be slight. It is only two years since U.N.R.R.A. came to life with the support of more than 40 of the United nations. At Atlantic City it was decided that those countries which had not been occupied should be invited to contribute to the relief and rehabilitation of the victims of aggression—and I emphasise victims of aggression—the sum of 1 per cent. of their national income in the year which ended in June, 1943; and that an international organisation should be created to collect the money, plan the 2603 programmes, procure the supplies and help and supervise their distribution. Ninety per cent. of the resources was to be made over in goods and services, and not more than 10 per cent. in foreign exchange.
I would ask the House to reflect on the nature, the magnitude and the difficulty of the task that was imposed on U.N.R.R.A. It was not, in fact, the first executive task ever undertaken by an international institution. We all know about the Universal Postal Union which worked for many years before the last war. Some people will remember the organisation for the repatriation of prisoners of war created by Dr. Nansen for the League of Nations, his High Commission for Refugees and his scheme for the settlement of refugees in Greece, in which an International Committee administered a loan of £14,000,000. Without that experience, U.N.R.R.A. would probably never have been created. But U.N.R.R.A.'s task was incomparably more difficult and greater in scale than anything proposed or even discussed before. One per cent. of the income of the uninvaded countries came to a little less than £500,000,000. The money, supplies and services were to be obtained from over 40 countries. It was to be administered—that is to say, U.N.R.R.A. would be operating and would have its personnel—in almost 20 countries. U.N.R.R.A. was to be responsible for the planning, the procurement of supplies, supervising, and, if need be, organising the distribution. Its duty was not merely to relieve distress but, in accordance with the second "R" in its name, to rehabilitate as far it might, and to help to put these countries on their feet. Nowadays, £500,000,000 seems almost a trifling sum—only about what it cost to produce the first atomic bomb—but to administer £500,000,000 in 20 countries is a vast undertaking. U.N.R.R.A.'s staff had to be international.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
It has had smaller missions doing smaller jobs in something like 20 countries, including North Africa, France and Belgium. Those are small-scale jobs, of course, and not the large-scale ones.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
But there has been administration in all these cases. It is a very complicated problem keeping control in a large number of places. That is the only point I am trying to make. It had to be an international administration, in every phase of the work and in every section of the personnel, and for all the countries it had to build up an international team. And U.N.R.R.A. was working under very stringent limitations. The governments, in their wisdom, decided in their Agreement, that the resources placed at the disposal of U.N.R.R.A. should only be drawn on through the governmental agencies of the different Member States; and all its operations must be agreed with the governments concerned, or with the military authorities in occupation of the particular countries. In other words, every proposal had to be clear with one or more governments before U.N.R.R.A. could go ahead. It has been said that U.N.R.R.A. accumulated the red tape of more than 40 nations. I think it would be truer to say that 40 nations tied U.N.R.R.A.in their red tape.
There was a second limitation, and here I touch upon the point of discrimination between countries, which was raised by so many hon. Members this afternoon. It was decided at Atlantic City that U.N.R.R.A. would operate in countries which had been under enemy occupation, and that in ex-enemy countries it could only operate by a specific decision of the Council. Some such decision had to be made. Third, it operated under limitations of finance. One per cent. is a large sum of money, and we are hoping for more; but, even so it was far less than was required for the immense task in view. Most serious of all, U.N.R.R.A. had to make its plans and build up its staff while the war was in its most intense and fiercest phase. There are great difficulties in creating any international staff. The Senior Burgess for Oxford University and I know them very well, because we lived through them after the last war. The people have to work outside their own countries, and they have to work with people of other nationalities; a balance has to be kept between different nations, without getting loaded up with "duds." 2605 The task of the Director-General of U.N.R.R.A. in making a start to administer this great sum of money required a large staff, and a staff with specialised knowledge of every sort—administration, supply, shipping, doctors, transport, engineers, bacteriologists, and anything you will. He had to get people who would be able to work in the field, who would know how to get on in strange countries with the Governments, the local authorities, the military and the people. I have had to do that, and it is not an easy job. He had no idea how soon the war would end. He had to get his people ready in case the war collapsed. He did not know if the organisation would have to go into action in six, 12 or 18 months. He did not know how long he would have to keep his people waiting doing nothing, and with all the demoralisation that that would involve.
Above all almost no Government—and the Senior Burgess for Oxford University knows a lot about this because he was on the job—would give to U.N.R.R.A. any able men or women at all, because every able man and woman was already engaged in a job of national importance for the prosecution of the war. When ever you asked for X, Y or Z the Government said, "Well, perhaps when the war is over, but now it is really impossible." Every man had to be gouged out from the national administration by a process that was long and painful. It is a miracle that any staff was got together. Of course it was not perfect; of course in staffing and in planning there were, in the words of the Senior Burgess, "grave defects"; but as the most distinguished Director-General, Governor Lehman, said in August, the only way to have avoided mistakes was to have made the greater mistake of doing nothing and, thank God, he did not do that. Mistakes have led to criticisms—
§ Earl Winterton (Horsham)
There was one other matter. There was, at one time, great difficulty in defining what the boundaries of U.N.R.R.A.'s work exactly were.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
There was also the great difficulty of deciding how and when they could take over from the military, who occupied the liberated countries. There were great difficulties of every kind. The critics were sometimes very active. May I deal with some of their 2606 criticisms and, very briefly, with some also that were not mentioned this afternoon. It is said that the salary scales were excessive. You have to pay money if you want good men for international work. U.N.R.R.A.'s scales were not higher than those in any other international organisation, and I am certain it was right to pay the money. Secondly, it was said the staff was unsuitable, inefficient, Communistic and generally objectionable in every way. If you consider the circumstances of recruitment, of course there may have been some people on the staff who were not of the first class, but I could not admit any general indictment of that kind against the staff of U.N.R.R.A. On the contrary I submit that a surprisingly large proportion of the staff of U.N.R.R.A. have proved to be extremely good, and, as the Senior Burgess said, there has been a marked improvement in recent months. Some of the misfits have been weeded out, and perhaps it is some of the misfits who have been spreading some of the stories about U.N.R.R.A. That also happens. We have done our best to give good men to U.N.R.R.A. We gave Commander Jackson, who did such a splendid job in the Middle East Supply Centre for the Ministry of War Transport, Sir Humfrey Gale for the European Office, Sir Frederick Morgan for Displaced Persons, and Major General Lewis for financial control in Europe. I assert that U.N.R.R.A. has now a fine team at work. Immense credit goes to the Senior Burgess for Oxford University, who had a large share in it in the early stages, when the work was hardest and most thankless.
In the third place it has been said, and has been repeated this afternoon, that U.N.R.R.A. goods are not properly distributed, that they reach the wrong people, that there is discrimination on political, racial and other grounds. All kinds of accusations are made. How well I know it! They were made against Dr. Nansen in 1921 when he was collecting money for the famine in the Soviet Union. There were accusations, which were without a shadow of foundation, that his goods were going to the Red Army, and those accusations had the effect of drying up the sources of charity and caused many, many people in the Soviet Union to die. It has also been a general rule in the past that you can say anything about an international 2607 organisation. Why not? It cannot defend itself. I would say that some of these accusations have been too readily believed. Every accusation brought up about the administration of U.N.R.R.A. is thoroughly investigated. A few minor cases of discrimination in distribution have been found both in Greece and in Yugoslavia, never by the policy of the Government, but by somebody very low down in the scale in the system of distribution. They have been put right. U.N.R.R.A. was heavily criticised for allowing the Yugoslav Army to use U.N.R.R.A. tractors to make airfields. But it was proved on investigation that, when this accusation was made, U.N.R.R.A. had not supplied a single tractor to Yugoslavia. Perhaps I may add, in answer to a specific Question put to me by the Senior Burgess, that there has never been a single case of obstruction of the supervising personnel of U.N.R.R.A. in Yugoslavia from first to last, and it is my belief that the administration there, under a member of the staff who comes from the Soviet Union, have done a splendid piece of work.
Of course there have been complaints of waste, extravagance and inefficiency. They are all examined. Most of them prove to have no foundation of any kind. Nearly all are grossly exaggerated or capable of some other explanation. I was asked about the black market in Greece. The question was raised the other day by my hon. Friend the Member for West Coventry (Mr. Edelman), who made so admirable a speech this afternoon. I would not accept the figure he then gave of 25 per cent. of U.N.R.R.A. goods reaching what is called the black market. I should like more evidence. But let him consider what actually happens in a place like Athens. I know the facts. The poor working man is entitled to buy bread and other U.N.R.R.A. goods, let us say tinned fish, at U.N.R.R.A. prices. When he gets the fish he thinks he cannot afford to eat it, because he can sell it for a much higher price and buy more bread. It is the old economic phenomenon: if poverty increases more bread is eaten and not less, because it is the cheapest form of food and other items of diet are left out.
Let me take two examples of accusations of waste and extravagance on the 2608 part of U.N.R.R.A. A member of a United States Government agency, F.E.A., wrote a very critical letter to U.N.R.R.A., saying that the goods were being so badly handled in a certain European country that a very large proportion were being spoiled before they could reach the consumers. He was bold enough to give the actual quantities of the goods which had been lost. The charges were investigated by U.N.R.R.A. and by high officials of the United States Army and the Allies. They found that the charges were almost totally without foundation. In regard to milk, for example, the amount which was alleged to have been spoiled was four times greater than the total amount of milk which U.N.R.R.A. had taken into the country. The same man alleged that U.N.R.R.A.'s supplies of cod fish and flour were stored in the same warehouse, and were so badly disposed that the cod fish was dripping on the flour and ruining it. It was found that flour and cod fish were in the same warehouse and that the cod fish was above the flour—but there were three concrete floors between them; and in any case neither the flour nor the cod fish belonged to U.N.R.R.A.
Of course there were mistakes, grave defects, if you will some waste of money, some inefficiency of method and personnel, but British experts who have examined the whole thing tell me that U.N.R.R.A. would stand up very well to a comparison with our own Supply Departments in the early stages of the war, and, as I have said, recently a great improvement has been made. I venture to say of U.N.R.R.A.'s administration that since it began to work, not long ago, it has come through the test of action with remarkable success.
What is the work it has done? I begin with what is often believed to be the most important part of its work, though, in fact, it is not, and that is the care and repatriation of displaced persons. In the Middle East U.N.R.R.A. has—it was its first duty in the field—taken over 46,000 Greeks and Yugoslavs who were refugees, and a few others.
U.N.R.R.A. have looked after them in camps and they have repatriated 33,000 already. In Germany at present, they are helping the military authorities to administer and look after about 1,000,000 displaced persons. They are in 400 camps; in 200, under military direction, 2609 the administration is in the hands of U.N.R.R.A. In about 100 more, U.N.R.R.A. personnel are working under military chiefs. It is hoped that in a short time, a month or two, when the agreements have been made and the transition worked out, U.N.R.R.A. will take over full responsibility. The money to be spent on these displaced persons up to the end of this year will be about £28,000,000, that is to say, about 10 per cent. of the total that will have been expended.
I was asked some questions about the life of the displaced persons in Germany. Camp life is never very cheerful, but we hope that improvements may be made. U.N.R.R.A. are making plans for this, plans to bring books and wireless sets, and to do anything else that can be done, as soon as they have the responsibility. At the present time they must work to the direction of the military authorities. I was asked whether any of the displaced persons were given jobs to do, whether any attempt was made to organise work. Some work is being given to displaced persons in these camps; but there is this great difficulty about it. Everybody hopes that those persons will return to their homes. It is the policy of U.N.R.R.A. and of our Government to encourage those who are willing to do so to return as soon as may be. As a consequence, there is always a chance of immediate departure from day to day. In fact, repatriation is still going on very fast. Therefore, it is not so easy to organise work as it appears to be at first sight. What can be done is being done, and I hope that improvements may be made.
§ Mr. Stokes
May I put a question to the right hon. Gentleman? Is it a fact that what he says does not apply to people who declare that they are not going back?
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
That is quite true, but before it becomes definite that they are not going back, and before they are sorted out into separate camps, a great deal of organisation has to be done. It is not at all an easy matter. As to displaced persons in Italy, U.N.R.R.A. is giving a great deal of help to people who are not in camps.
In the second place, U.N.R.R.A. have given medical relief to certain paying countries, those who have foreign ex- 2610 change, such as France, Belgium, Holland, and so on. They have sent medical missions, welfare centres and hospitals, and they have sent in urgent medical supplies. At one time, S.H.A.E.F. was giving 50 tons of shipping space per week, and each ton was not an ordinary ton of commercial goods, it was key stuff of the highest value to the countries who received it. U.N.R.R.A. health services at the end of September, taking the countries they were working in as a whole, included more than 1,000 hospitals with more than 1,000 doctors, a great army of nurses, sanitary engineers, and other experts.
I was asked by my hon. Friend the Member for West Coventry whether U.N.R.R.A.'s health services could be extended to Germany. I have asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster to look especially into that question and into all that my hon. Friend has said this afternoon. I can only say that in the camps for which they are responsible U.N.R.R.A. will certainly organise adequate health services when they take over, if those services are not adequate already, as I hope they are. I was told by the Generals in Germany, not many weeks ago, that, so far as the German people are concerned, after very careful examination, they hoped that the medical services were already strong enough to deal with any epidemics that might arise. But, as I have said, the Chancellor of the Duchy will look into this matter again.
Incomparably the most important part of U.N.R.R.A.'s work is its over-all relief to countries which have been so smashed by the war that they simply cannot rehabilitate themselves. Unless U.N.R.R.A. can help them they will certainly go into chaos. U.N.R.R.A. brings them foreign exchange which they could not otherwise obtain. In a world of Combined Boards, it helps them to procure and to ship the goods It helps them often, when their national administration is in chaos, to plan the distribution of the goods. That work of over-all relief and rehabilitation is now going on upon a considerable scale, as I shall show, in Greece, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Albania. It began with material which was made available by the military authorities. Last April, U.N.R.R.A. began to ship for themselves—25,000 tons. By the end of 2611 September they had shipped nearly 2,000,000 tons; by the end of October 2,660,000 tons, and by the end of this year the total will be 4,000,000 tons.
The value is about £250,000,000. I divide it up, in order to answer one other question. By the end of 1945, Greece will have received £61,500,000, Yugoslavia £62,000,000, in spite of the fact that it began much later, that the port capacity is much less and that there was the difficulty which was mentioned at the beginning of this Debate; Poland, if the port capacity will allow it, £68,500,000, Czechoslovakia £50,500,000, Albania £4,50,000, and Italy £34,250,000, under the restricted scheme of help given so far.
I was asked also what proportion U.N.R.R.A. were spending on the different kinds of help. Broadly, 33 per cent. is spent on food, 30 per cent. on clothing, textiles and footwear—footwear being of vital importance for the re-starting of work in the fields and factories—24 per cent. on industrial items, 13 per cent. on medical items and medical supplies. Roughly, 65 per cent. is on relief and 35 per cent. is on rehabilitation. That isfor 1945. I have the figures for 1946 if any hon. Member would like to see them; they show that rehabilitation will account for rather more than half of the whole resources which U.N.R.R.A. will make available in the coming year.
In this work, U.N.R.R.A. has shown great ingenuity and resource in dealing with difficult situations. They flew from Egypt 50,000 grey mullet to restock the lakes in Greece; they provided equipment for divers to work on sunken relief cargoes in Trieste; following a radio appeal, they flew six iron lungs to Czechoslovakia to deal with an epidemic of meningitis; they supplied 24 portable flour mills in Italy and have flown serum for typhus control to different countries. They have not been stereotyped or bureaucratic in what they have done.
I must say a special word about transport, because it is vital to rehabilitation, as the right hon. Member for Oxford University has so often emphasised. Up to the present time, U.N.R.R.A. have procured 53,303 road vehicles for those U.N.R.R.A. countries, the receiving, non-paying countries, of which 24,800, or 25,000 in fact, have actually been shipped. That is on top of the vehicles 2612 sent to France, Belgium and the North-West of Europe, which are very considerably more than 20,000 in number. It is not the 100,000 or more for which my right hon. Friend has asked, but he has always recognised that his programme would have to be spaced out over the winter. It is very nearly up to the figure which the receiving countries could take. I hope it can be accelerated, and I never cease from pressing the matter myself.
§ Sir A. Salter
I agree that 50,000 would have been quite a reasonable figure, had they been got into the countries concerned more quickly. But as the right hon. Gentleman says, only half has been shipped. Considerably more has actually arrived and been in operation in the recipient countries.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
But if you count in North-West Europe it is nearly 50,000 now. Greece, altogether, has had about 7,000 lorries; Poland 10,000—that is to the end of last month—and in Czechoslovakia, 4,600 and so on. The rate of supply is pretty fast. We ship from this country 75 a day for five days a week for Poland, and we are sending to Czechoslovakia 125 a week.
§ Sir A. Salter
I agree that the recent rate of shipment has been very satisfactory—but only recently.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
Yes. I like to think we have put a special drive into this matter since August last.
§ Earl Winterton
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman what I think is a very important question? It is well known that, in Germany, the difficulty to be faced this winter is that of moving coal because of the lack of transport. That is a desperate situation. In any of the countries in which U.N.R.R.A. does operate, there should be public authority to authorise the use of these trucks to move coal.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
Of course the military and other authorities in Germany have their own transport. Whether it is enough or not is another matter. They could ask for more. They are also rehabilitating railways. I have played a small part in getting E.C.I.T.O. to send a mission to help to open up the Rhine to ensure better transport from the Ruhr. U.N.R.R.A. also has done something 2613 about railways and also about water transport on the Continent of Europe.
I have been asked about how we make up the British contribution. The general answer is that we have not had difficulty in fulfilling our demands from U.N.R.R.A., as they put them forward. At first most came from civil sources; now we are releasing more from military stocks. I could give details if I had the time. But what many hon. Members want to know about is the additional supplies for Europe. I answer thus: those supplies will not fall into our U.N.R.R.A. contributions at all, either in what we have done so far or what we may do in the future. It is more than true that our contribution to U.N.R.R.A. is only a part of the great effort for the relief of Europe which we have already made.
I must mention also that this business of supply is not only supervised for racial discrimination; it is also controlled by U.N.R.R.A. to ascertain that it is meeting a real need which cannot be dealt with from local sources. I give one very striking illustration. Last April there was in Athens only food enough to provide a diet of 250 calories a day. To make it up to 2,000—not a very high standard—it was agreed that U.N.R.R.A. should provide 1,750 calories. In October local resources rose from 250 to 450 and U.N.R.R.A. reduced its supply to1,550 to keep the calories at 2,000. That shows how minute and how effective is the control to ensure that what is done is really needed. The Governments have expressed the greatest appreciation of this work. On November 9, the second anniversary of the establishment of U.N.R.R.A. there was a real chorus of tributes from heads of States, Prime Ministers and Foreign Ministers. I am even more impressed by the impressions brought to me by colleagues and personal friends about the work. There is one whom I have known well, whom I trust and whose politics I do not distrust, who has come from Poland. A colleague in a United Nations Committee came from Slovakia and told me that the name of U.N.R.R.A. stood extremely high there. A colleague of mine who was in Italy the other day said the work done for the mothers and children—a million mothers are being fed by U.N.R.R.A.—had evoked the warmest gratitude from the whole Italian people.
2614 What about the future work which U.N.R.R.A. must undertake? In Austria, the Allied Control Commission has not been able to make a request for an U.N.R.R.A. mission because so far, I understand, the Soviet Member has not been able to say what is required, for the Soviet zone; but they have asked for a technical mission to study the whole problem, and that mission is going, if it has not actually left. Sir Humfrey Gale has been to Italy, and planning is going forward. The U.N.R.R.A. authorities in Washington are actually planning loadings for Italy for January and February, 1946. I cannot say what exact sums will be programmed, but it is on a large scale, and I hope my hon. Friends will believe that the thing is being taken very seriously indeed. That is a result of decisions made by the Council in August last. With regard to the Far East, studies are being made and U.N.R.R.A. agents are already in the Philippines. A mission is going to China. It is planned that China will have roughly something in the order of £150,000,000 of help from U.N.R.R.A., which would be about 30 per cent. of one per cent. of the national income.
It is evident now that more money will be needed, if U.N.R.R.A. is not to collapse in the early future. Last August, as the Senior Burgess for Oxford University said, the Council decided to recommend the Governments to give a second one per cent. of their national income. I was authorised to say to the Council of U.N.R.R.A. last August that His Majesty's Government would ask Parliament to grant that further contribution. The first contribution was £80,000,000, a trifle over one per cent. We propose to give another £75,000,000; £155,000,000 in all, approximately two per cent. His Majesty's Government would be very glad if we could ask the House to vote that money now. I am confident that, if we did, the House would agree. It is not possible for me to do so for a technical reason. Under our wartime procedure we act by Votes of Credit and in the last Vote of Credit the Chancellor of the Exchequer took authority to make a further contribution to U.N.R.R.A. from the £2,000,000,000 for which he then asked. That will cover us to the end of the present financial year. Perhaps we may call on £15,000,000 or £20,000,000 of that money before the end of the financial year. That is estimated at £5,000,000 a month for 2615 three months, at our present rate of expenditure with a little over. Certainly before the financial year is over, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury will come here and move an Estimate for what further money is needed to make up the second one per cent. Of course it will have to be carefully examined by the House in accordance with the statutory peacetime procedure for control of all expenditure to which we are now reverting. But I am now solemnly declaring that it is the firm intention of the Government to ask Parliament for an extra one per cent.and I have little doubt, that the House, in the light of this Debate, will agree to vote it.
There are other things I should like to say, but I will say only this in conclusion. U.N.R.R.A. is not charity—though it might be, in view of the sufferings of Europe and the world today. It is not a reward for services in the war, thought it might be in view of what Greece, Poland, Holland and other countries did to help us. It is not the equalisation of sacrifice, though that would be just if it could be obtained. It is, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) once said, enlightened self-interest. If we can reconstructthese countries, if we can get international trade going three months sooner than it would otherwise start, we make a handsome dividend on the money we pay in. If we can stop epidemics—and, let us remember, there were 30,000,000 cases of typhus in the Soviet Union after the last war, and 13,000,000 people died of influenza—it is good business. But it has also a moral purpose, and so far as His Majesty's Government are concerned, by their actions and by their example, we are resolved that U.N.R.R.A. must not and shall not fail.
§ It being Four o'Clock, the Motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[Captain Michael Stewart.]