HC Deb 23 April 1947 vol 436 cc1001-2
8. Mr. Peter Freeman

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement on the recent food demonstrations in Germany, giving the amount of food that was being received, irrespective of the rationed amounts to which the population is entitled.

Mr. McNeil

I would refer my hon. Friend to the statement made by my hon. Friend the then Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on 2nd April, in reply to Questions by my hon. Friends the Members for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) and Bedford (Mr. Skeffington-Lodge).

Mr. Freeman

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the reports of German conditions are so serious that they indicate that the people are not getting even as much as one thousand calories a day in some areas, and as a result them is a great increase in the number of accidents and many are collapsing in the streets and starving? Can he take all practical steps to prevent the Germans starving in this way?

Mr. McNeil

I could not accept the rather sweeping statements made by my hon. Friend, but I can assure him that, since these occurrences, the matter has been urgently reviewed, and several steps to improve conditions and to prevent any recurrence are being taken.

Major Guy Lloyd

Would the right hon. Gentleman be prepared to refute the impression in certain sections of the Press that these demonstrations were largely due to the inefficiency of the administration by the Germans themselves, whereas in fact it was a genuine famine hunger in Germany which was the real cause of the demonstrations?

Mr. McNeil

I am afraid I could not completely accept that. The difficulties were more caused by distribution faults than by a scarcity of rations.

Sir Waldron Smithers

Can the Minister say whether the shortage of food in Germany is due to misappropriation of foodstuffs by the Russians?

11. Mr. Bramall

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why measures to remedy the food situation in the Ruhr and Rhineland were not taken before disturbances broke out in those areas.

Mr. McNeil

Since my hon. Friend's Question on 3rd April, further information has been received. Full responsibility for the transport of food was in fact reassumed temporarily by Military Government before the time of the demonstrations, and a special programme for moving grain from the ports by rail had been put into operation by 22nd March, which was as soon as the weather permitted.