HC Deb 04 December 1946 vol 431 cc329-30
31. Mr. Randall

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster the results of the conference to investigate the slow progress with the harvest in the British zone of Austria, its causes, suggested remedies and what action is contemplated.

Mr. J. Hynd

I do not know to which conference my hon. Friend refers as this matter has been under constant examination. The main difficulty has been transport, owing to the shortage of vehicles, tyres, spare parts and petrol. Largely as a result of British help in supplying the Austrian Government with surplus Army vehicles, tyres and spares, most of these shortages have now been substantially overcome, but shortage of petrol is still a serious handicap. Negotiations are in progress to secure more petrol, and the Austrian Government are to introduce new legislation giving them more control over the agricultural programme and the collection of food from the farms.

Sir Peter Macdonald

Is it not a fact that the petrol in Austria is in the Russian zone, and could not some pressure be put on the Russians to release some of this petrol—of which there is an adequate supply for Austrian needs—for other zones?

Mr. Hynd

I do not think that the hon. Gentleman's information is correct. The type of oil produced from the Austrian wells and refineries is not the type of petrol useful for this kind of purpose. It is true that if some of that oil were released, it might be more easy for the Austrians to exchange it for petrol from other sources.