Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £10, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the charge which will come in the course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1952, for salaries and expenses in connection with the administration of certain African territories and for meeting deficiencies on the annual accounts of such territories, including grants in aid.
§ 8.54 p.m.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Anthony Nutting)
Perhaps it will help the Committee if I briefly supplement the rather short and cryptic explanation of this loan to Cyrenaica which appears in the Estimate. This loan arises from certain serious drought conditions which prevailed in Cyrenaica after the failure of the harvest in 1951, when it became necessary for the Government of Cyrenaica to import 18,000 tons of grain, valued at over £800,000, to supplement their depleted stocks.
The Government of Cyrenaica was unable to finance the whole cost of the import from local resources and asked Her Majesty's Government for financial assistance to this end. In view of the responsibility which we then held as the administering power, and after we had carefully investigated and verified the prevailing local conditions, an interest-free loan of £250,000 was granted to the Cyrenaica Government.
534 The Prime Minister of the Government of Cyrenaica, in a written acknowledgement of the loan, has given an assurance that it will be repaid by 30th June, 1952. Since the loan was required by Cyrenaica at the time the import took place during September and October, a sum of £250,000 was advanced from the Civil Contingencies Fund at that time.
§ Mr. H. Hynd
The Committee is delighted to hear about the loan. On the one hand, the action displays a laudable willingness to help unfortunate communities who suffer through no fault of their own, and, on the other hand, it is an indication of the way in which, in spite of all its difficulties, this country is prepared to help less fortunate parts of the world.
We are often criticised for accepting help from other parts of the world. This shows that, in spite of all our difficulties, we can hold out a helping hand to Cyrenaica in these circumstances. I am sure no one will grudge the small amount of expenditure which is involved. We only hope that this action will bring great benefit to Cyrenaica.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)
I wish to associate myself with what has been said. I am sure there must be a very great spirit of gratitude in Cyrenaica as a result of this action. All I hope is that, as a result of the actions of the present Government, we shall not in a very short time be going to Cyrenaica in order to borrow money for our own purposes.
§ Dr. Stross
This small action symbolises the way powerful nations should behave towards those who need assistance in times of distress. One would like to see this done in a very much bigger way all the world over, with a great central organisation ready to help any country needing assistance.
I should be glad if the Minister could tell us the type of grain which was sent to Cyrenaica. Was it wheat or coarse grain? I should also like to know whether, according to the Minister's information, it has been sufficient to tide Cyrenaica over this drought and if he has any information about the present food situation in that country.
§ Sir Herbert Williams (Croydon, East)
I should be glad if my hon. Friend could give me some information about certain savings.
§ Mr. Nutting
In reply to my hon. Friend, that is precisely what I am not entitled to do. All I can say is that, as my hon. Friend will see, we expect to have fairly considerable savings under other sub-heads and that the net estimated Vote amounts to £10.
In reply to the first point put by the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Dr. Stross), speaking without the book, I believe that it was wheat which was mainly required and which was supplied through the assistance of the loan. I understand that it was sufficient to tide Cyrenaica over her difficulties.
As for the future, we are investigating every practicable method open to us of assisting Cyrenaica to face any further difficulties of this nature. We are doing our utmost to further agricultural development throughout the State of Libya. As the hon. Gentleman probably knows, in the British Middle East Office at Fayid we have a Development Division which has done a great deal of good work in the Middle East as a whole and will devote its energies to assisting Cyrenaica in this field.
§ Mr. M. Follick (Loughborough)
I do not know if I am in order in putting this question, but could the Joint Under-Secretary of State tell me if in that new country he has taken any steps to divert the caravan routes—
§ Question put, and agreed to.
That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £10, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1952, for salaries and expenses in connection with the administration of certain African territories and for meeting deficiencies on the annual accounts of such territories, including grants in aid.