HC Deb 22 May 1950 vol 475 cc1633-4
24. Mr. Peter Smithers

asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware of the bad impression created in the Dominican Republic by the recent call of the Soviet vessel "Dmitry Donskoy" under charter to his Department to carry a cargo of sugar to Liverpool; and whether in future he will avoid chartering Soviet ships to call at Caribbean ports.

Mr. F. Willey

I can give no such assurance.

Mr. Smithers

Is the Minister aware that when this vessel docked she was met by a detachment of troops and that none of the ship's company were allowed to land, and does he not think that it is just about as tactful to trade in this manner as it would be to charter Spanish Government ships to go to Vladivostock? Will he not stop this procedure?

Mr. Willey

I believe that we should be guided by purely commercial considerations.

Captain Ryder

Has the Minister acted in consultation with the Ministry of Transport in this matter, and can we have an assurance that in arranging these voyages nothing will be done which will jeopardise the interests of British seamen?

Mr. Willey

As has already been explained to the House, no other British tramp shipping was available at these rates.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

If the observation of the hon. Gentleman that "we should be guided by purely commercial considerations" does, in fact, apply to the various countries mentioned, will he also apply it to the Government of Spain?

Captain Crookshank

The hon. Gentleman answered only the second part of the Question. What my hon. Friend asked was whether the Government were aware of the bad impression and what were their comments on that?

Mr. Willey

Our inquiries do not bear out the implication which is contained in the Question.

Captain Crookshank

Then why did not the hon. Gentleman say so?