HC Deb 27 October 1949 vol 468 cc1493-5
15. Mr. Granville Sharp

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations what reply he has received from the Republic of Ireland to the representations made by him against the traffic in rationed food parcels from Eire to the United Kingdom.

The Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations (Mr. Gordon-Walker)

The United Kingdom Government are reluctant to interfere with the receipt of genuine gift parcels from the Irish Republic but there is no doubt that many parcels falsely purporting to be free gifts have been purchased by the recipients. This traffic is contrary to United Kingdom regulations. The authorities in Dublin have been made aware of the concern of the United Kingdom Government, but a difficulty is that this traffic does not contravene any regulations in the Republic. The action to be taken in the United Kingdom to bring such purchases to an end is now receiving urgent consideration.

Mr. Keeling

Do not we want all the imports of food that we can get? Is not this one of the refinements of control which could be relinquished? Does it benefit anyone who does not get parcels from Ireland to deprive other people of them?

Mr. Gordon-Walker

There is a great difference between gifts sent genuinely, and rationed and pointed goods bought outside the rationing scheme. This is really a question for my right hon. Friend the Minister of Food.

Mr. McGovern

Is it not the case that parcels are coming from Australia, New Zealand and other Dominions containing "pointed" goods, and should not we encourage the bringing of all the food that can be brought to England in order to ease the home situation?

Mr. Gordon-Walker

I think that there is a great deal of difference between what happens in Australia, which has a flow of genuine gifts, and what might be called this traffic in gifts which is not genuine at all.

Mr. Harrison

Can the Minister say what steps he is prepared to take to stop this traffic which is being put on a commercial basis by dealers in Dublin to provide rationed food at the expense of our currency reserves in this country? It is most unsatisfactory and needs inquiring into.

Mr. Gordon-Walker

I agree with my hon. Friend's description, but I think that he should put the question to my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade.