HC Deb 28 June 1948 vol 452 cc1828-30
34. Mr. Ellis Smith

asked the Minister of Food if he has considered the Report of the Second Session of the World Food Council; and what action it is proposed to take.

Mr. Strachey

Yes, Sir. His Majesty's Government have examined the report of the Second Session of the Food and Agriculture Organisation Council. The measures that we are taking on the matters covered by the Report are too many and various to be summarised in answer to a Parliamentary Question. I would mention only the home agricultural expansion programme announced by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries on 21st August last, and the establishment of the Colonial Development Corporation and the Overseas Food Corporation. As the hon. Member knows, the Overseas Food Corporation has already begun work on two major enterprises, namely, the East African Groundnut Scheme and the Queensland Scheme for growing coarse grains for pig production and other purposes.

As to the more technical recommendations, such as those concerned with animal and plant diseases, control of pests, grassland improvement and so on, the Government are taking action both at home and in co-operation with other countries. We are also playing a prominent part in the international arrangements for allocating scarce foodstuffs and agricultural means of production.

Mr. Ellis Smith

In view of the serious state of affairs revealed in this Report will my right hon. Friend consider the advisability of publishing a White Paper so that the world can see the contribution which Britain intends to make in dealing with this serious problem?

Mr. Strachey

I am very much in sympathy with the suggestion that, by any practical means, we should call the attention of the world to the leading part which I think we can fairly say we are taking in this matter.

45. Mr. Ellis Smith

asked the Prime Minister if he will initiate consultations with all European countries and the U.S.S.R. with a view of deciding how best this country in co-operation with others can implement the requests made in the Report of the World Food Council; and if he will take steps to increase the output of farm machinery and spare parts and have it exported to those countries who will undertake to ship here food and timber or other urgently required materials.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Attlee)

As a member of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, His Majesty's Government are already co-operating in action arising out of the report of the Second Session of the Council of the Food and Agriculture Organisation, of which the Soviet Union has not yet sought to become a Member. In reply to the second part of the Question, the contribution which can be made to European recovery by the export of farm machinery is under constant and active consideration by His Majesty's Government as a member of both the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation and the Economic Commission for Europe.

Mr. Collins

Can the Prime Minister give an assurance with regard to machinery that no exports will be permitted unless he is satisfied that there is a sufficient output to meet the requirements of our own country?

The Prime Minister

Of course, a balance is kept in this matter.

46. Mr. Ellis Smith

asked the Prime Minister if he will take steps to expedite the Conference of British Commonwealth Prime Ministers, in view of the report of the World Food Council; and that consideration shall be given to the need for the Commonwealth implementation of the report.

The Prime Minister

In reply to the first part of the Question, I can assure my hon. Friend that, as I shall make clear in reply to the next Question on the Order Paper by the hon. Member for Eye (Mr. Granville), I have for some time been trying to arrange a meeting of my fellow Prime Ministers as early as possible. In reply to the second part, I regret that I cannot say whether this question will be discussed if a meeting of Commonwealth Prime Ministers takes place in London. I am glad to assure my hon. Friend that His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom are studying the Report of the World Food Council with care and diligence, and have no doubt that other Commonwealth Governments are doing the same.

Mr. Ellis Smith

Will my right hon. Friend consider the advisability of asking the Commonwealth representatives to this meeting to give priority to immediate Commonwealth needs, in order that we can make the maximum contribution towards a solution of the problem contained in the World Food Council's report? Will he also consider the raising of a Commonwealth loan in order that we can have a large development of Commonwealth agriculture and industry?

The Prime Minister

Obviously, I cannot answer the second question without very great consideration and notice. I am taking note of my hon. Friend's suggestion.