HL Deb 14 December 1939 vol 115 cc291-2

4.52 p.m.

LORD BARNBY rose to ask whether, in view of the large sum of public money involved in the purchase of the Australian and New Zealand woolclips and the desirability of securing dollar exchange from the realisation of those portions not required for military purposes, His Majesty's Government are now able to report that arrangements for supply to the U.S.A., foreshadowed in the statement made in the House of Lords, on November 30 last, as regards procedure and price basis, have now been completed and announced to the U.S.A. industry.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in asking the question that stands in my name on the Paper, I should like with the permission of the House to explain that it is only because of the imminent Recess that I raise it now. For the reasons which I give on the Paper, I feel it deserves attention. It arises from some confusion which occurred when I raised this matter in the House on November 30, and because of which I received, from the statement which was then made on behalf of the Government, an impression different, evidently, from what was intended. Thanks to the courtesy of the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence, with whom I have exchanged some correspondence, the facts seem to be different from what I understood. I quote from the OFFICIAL REPORT, column 75. After his explanation had covered the points I made, the Government spokesman stated: "I have to say that these matters have now been settled." Because I understood that, anyhow at that date, the progress which it was intimated had been made had in fact not been made, and because I have reason to think that it has still been slow and may not yet have reached what was then indicated, I have put down this question, even though it was explained to me that it might well be difficult to get the reply in time. I replied that, if that be the case, I should be quite satisfied to be told.

I made two points: that the procedure had not yet been completed, nor had the necessary prices been specifically indicated in the reply. This matter is important both because public money is involved and because it is desirable as quickly as possible to get the exchange—that is the dollars—available in New York from the disposal of this merchandise, which cannot be required for military purposes. This transaction will be entirely outside the war area, which might otherwise limit such action.

4.55 p.m.


My Lords, the arrangements for the sale of Australian wool have now been completed, and it is understood that the procedure to be followed for the purchase of this wool through the ordinary commercial channels has been communicated to the industry in the United States by the Government of that country.