HC Deb 11 June 1947 vol 438 cc1041-3
8. Mr. Peter Freeman

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what increased amounts of food have now been allocated to Germany to meet the serious shortage; and what is the present calorific value of the amount now being actually received per head.

The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Ernest Bevin)

A special emergency allocation of cereals, equivalent to 137,000 tons of flour, will increase the expected arrivals of cereals for human consumption in the combined zones to the equivalent of about 400,000 tons of flour in both June and July. The average daily calorie value of the ration actually available to normal consumers was slightly less than 1,000 calories in May and is likely to remain at about this level in June.

Mr. Freeman

Does my right hon. Friend consider that this amount—1,000 calories daily—is really adequate to keep the Germans from starving?

Mr. Bevin

I do not think it is adequate, but the whole world is short of food, and I have to take into consideration representations made to me on behalf not only of Germany, but of countries she invaded.

Mr. Skeffington-Lodge

Will my right hon. Friend be good enough to bear in mind the common sense and desirability of only announcing publicly in Germany the total ration which can be fully honoured?

Mr. Bevin

Yes, Sir. I am going into that. I think it is very desirable to make sure of what can be got, and tell them only about what is available. I am altering and reorganising the whole of the Cereals Division of the control body.

Mr. Vane

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us the country of origin of this special allocation? Is it Eastern Europe or America.

Mr. Bevin

I do not understand that question.

7. Mr. Stokes

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is satisfied that the maximum advantage is being taken of vegetable supplies from Holland in order to ease the food situation in Germany; and whether he proposes to enter into arrangements with the Dutch Government to this end as and when vegetables become available.

Mr. Bevin

Negotiations are now in progress between the bizonal authorities and the Netherlands Government with a view to obtaining the maximum quantity of Dutch vegetables for the Western zones of Germany.

Mr. Stokes

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that last year similar negotiations were initiated, and that a very considerable proportion of the vegetables available were not taken, and were thrown away? Will he make quite sure that that does not happen again?

Mr. Bevin

I am doing my best to carry on all these negotiations to get the maximum amount of food to the Germans, but my hon. Friend must remember that the dollar situation does interfere with things, and that I have to deal with the American authorities as well.

Sir Waldron Smithers

Is not the main reason for the food shortage in Germany the fact that Russian policy refuses to allow Germany to be treated as an economic whole?

Mr. Bevin

That does affect the situation, but I have described that in the recent Debate. I am now taking steps to overcome that.

25. Mr. Driberg

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs how many tons of grain, potatoes, sugar and other foods have been sent from the Soviet zone to Western Germany in the past year.

Mr. Bevin

Up to the end of May, 126,000 tons of grain, 110,000 tons of potatoes and 24,000 tons of sugar were delivered from the Soviet zone to the Combined British and American zones of Germany and the British and American sector of Berlin. All these deliveries were from the 1946 crop.

Mr. Driberg

While we all wish that these figures had been larger, is it not unfortunate, in view of these figures, that a public statement should have been made less than a fortnight ago to the effect that no food at all had been sent; and is it not now clear that that statement was a lie?

Mr. Bevin

No, Sir. What I said then was perfectly true, that there had been no food put into the pool for Germany which corresponded to the amount we had had to buy outside by dollar purchases. All this food to which I have referred has been paid for by barter in steel, or some other way.

Mr. Hogg

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us how these figures compare with the total import requirements of the zone in question?

Mr. Bevin

I should want notice of that Question.

Mr. Richard Law

Could the right hon. Gentleman say how these figures which he has just read out would have compared with the comparable figures for a prewar year? They would, presumably, have been very much greater then.

Mr. Bevin

It would be infinitesimal compared with the distribution of food from that zone to the Ruhr before the war.

27. Mr. Skeffington-Lodge

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will consider classifying Hamburg, Bremen and the Ruhr as distressed areas to be afforded priority in respect of food imports, if necessary at the expense of their agricultural hinterland.

Mr. Bevin

Large towns in the British zone are already being given a slight preference over other districts in the allocation of food, both for normal and for priority consumers. It would be unwise to make too great a distinction between town and country, since many rural districts are now short of food owing to the large numbers of refugees who have been sent to them.

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