HL Deb 05 December 1945 vol 138 cc341-98

3.8 p.m.

THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY rose to call attention to the acute distress prevailing in Central Europe; and to move for Papers. The most reverend Primate said: My Lords, I cannot keep to myself a piece of news which was given to me only a few moments ago. Archbishop Lord Lang collapsed on Richmond station this morning and died shortly at erwards in hospital. For all I know he was on his way to this House at the time when he collapsed. I do not need to make any comment on that matter now, and I understand from the noble Leader of the House that there will be an opportunity to-morrow for further reference to it. But I think that your Lordships will understand why I wished to make that statement before I began to speak on my Motion.

In the debate which took place last week on the international situation, the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition isolated three main burdens of grievous oppression that rest upon us. One was the atomic bomb; the second was what he called the "miasma of suspicion" poisoning the relations of the great Powers; the third was what he called the "hideous situation in Europe," with its huge populations drifting about without aim and without hope and, as he might have added, without food and without shelter. The first two of those burdens were discussed last week very fully. It is to the third that I wish to draw your Lordships' attention to-day, and I have no doubt that it will be discussed with the same unanimity that marked the debate a week ago. Those on the Government Benches and in every other part of this House are possessed by one common anxiety and concern in this matter, and by a common desire to reach a tolerable end of it.

My Motion refers to distress in Central Europe. I would say in passing that I am not forgetful of distress in the liberated countries which were victims of Germany and which have the first claim on our sympathies. Of them I would only make a few brief remarks. One is that their conditions vary very greatly as between one and another. As I understand it, Holland is in a fair way to a really wonderful recovery from the extremities of suffering which fell upon it during the German occupation. I am told by those recently returned from Holland that nobody to-day goes hungry in that country, though there is nothing to spare for luxuries. True, the period of occupation has left its mark, but Holland, though still ill, is convalescent, physically, morally, and materially.

One could not say that of all the liberated countries. A different picture would have to be drawn, for instance, in Greece or Italy. Let us not forget that in the organization called U.N.R.R.A., thirty-one nations which did not suffer occupation, are co-operating to bring relief and help to those which did. I am told—I do not know about it—that U.N.R.R.A. is in sonic respects open to criticism. Do not let that blind us to the fact that it has done an immense and vast work of restoration, bringing relief to the sick, the starving and the distressed. In Italy alone, for instance, it will by Christmas' he feeding 2,000,000 under-nourished children. That may be taken as a specimen of the scale of its operations. Not only does it bring help to the distressed but its endeavour is to put the occupied countries on their feet again and to bring them some way towards self-maintenance once more. That much I have said because I do not wish it to be supposed that I was forgetting the liberated countries.

Let me turn to Central Europe and the British zone and I must say, lest it should be thought that I had forgotten it, that we cannot forget the amazing work done by the British Army in that zone. No Army has ever faced such tasks as they had to take up when they entered into Germany with its millions of unhoused citizens, its millions of prisoners of war, its slave labour and displaced persons, and no surviving government of any kind to help. It is a marvel that out of that incredible chaos they have brought so much of order and good government. I think that a tribute must be paid not only to what they have done but to the high-minded spirit of purpose with which they have done it throughout. One can only hope that when the Control Commission takes over their officers will be as high minded, competent and efficient in the work. What are the conditions in our zone? They are, of course, not uniform. In the country districts I believe there is comparatively little amiss. There is sufficient food; if there is no coal there is ample wood fuel and there is a reasonable standard of life; but in the urban districts it is far otherwise, and the British zone is largely urban.

I should like to say that I could quote from our own authoritative reports upon the conditions, the standards of life and so forth in our zone, but so far as I know there are no such authoritative reports regularly put forward. Therefore, let me make use of the reports put out by General Eisenhower for the American zone. In his second monthly report published on October 17 in this country, he said this, and let me preface it by a few figures which may be familiar but which we have to bear in mind. The minimum standard of diet for normal health is 2,650 calories per day. In this country the average figure is 2,800 to 2,900 calories. The figure for a bare sufficiency of health is 2,000 calories per day. Now let me go on to General Eisenhower's statement: While the maximum permissible food ration is 1,550 calories per diem per normal consumer, this level has not been reached since the occupation. Malnutrition in many cities in the United States zone has been averted so far only because of the existence of small reserves and the availability of garden products but with the coming of winter these reserves will be exhausted.

In his next report, dealing with October and the beginning of November, he says that there are potential dangers of unrest and disease this winter. There is, he says, no immediate emergency so long as the current rations can be maintained. That is, I presume, the ration of 1,500 calories per day, a ration of under-nourishment, and he goes on to say that an accumulative weakness has developed in many people as a result of the inadequacies of the past six months. …

And he adds that in Saarbruecken in the French zone the normal ration of 1,100 calories a day was consistently not met. In the light of such figures translated into men, women and children, all undernourished and some nearing starvation level, it is surely difficult to say, as General Eisenhower says, that there is no immediate emergency, or to be anything but alarmed as to what the following months of winter may have to show when it may be difficult to maintain even those standards. I cannot think that conditions in the British zone differ very much. The most that Field-Marshal Montgomery has ever said is, I think, that his aim is 1,500 calories per diem.

I have said that the next few months must bring still more trials. Can we feel at all confident that they will be met successfully? The reserves have gone—the reserves of physical strength and reserves of food. When to this bare minimum, insufficient in itself and not assured for the winter, you add the cellars and the rootless houses to live in, no fuel in the cities except such wood as can be collected, insufficient clothing to protect them and worn out boots and shoes, there will be no defence against disease and death and unrest in the cities and towns of Germany. The local authorities speak hopefully about being able to avoid major epidemics. They say that the chief danger is from typhoid and diphtheria, but there remains the inability to stand up to climatic conditions and the influenza epidemic which may arise. Let us go further east. We are concerned to know how many refugees are to pass from the east into the British zone. We are concerned to know the conditions which propel these people on to the borders of the British zone, the conditions in Berlin, in the Russian zone beyond and in Poland behind that, and it is very hard to get any clear picture or to test the accuracy of the appalling reports which come through to us. There is no doubt as to the dreadful state in which refugees have reached our lines. There is no doubt about the revolting conditions of the Berlin stations. There are plenty of eye-witnesses of that and I would not harrow your Lordships by repeating here, again, the stories of people, dead and dying, arriving at the station, remaining in the station for days, and of a train, when it goes out to the west, being festooned with the still living, every little corner of it, inside and outside.

There can be no doubt of the inhuman conditions under which expulsions of Germans from Poland have taken place. But what are the facts now, and do the Government know? Last week the Secretary of State for India told us that the total number of Germans to be transferred from Poland, Czechoslovakia, Austria and Hungary is a little over six and a half millions. General Eisenhower called it ten millions. How many of those are to come into our zone? Anyhow, there are so many millions in such conditions, on the move and to be fed. The Government have given us some reason to hope that the deportations are coming under some kind of control. The Foreign Secretary on November 23 said that the most recent reports suggest that the expulsions and forced migrations through Poland have diminished considerably in volume, and that the Control Council has now, at length, begun to Make real progress with the plan for the reception and distribution of migrants.

Even better and even more explicit, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on November 26 said: The rate of transference is to be gradual. …In the next three months only twenty per cent. of the total number will be transferred.…Transfers will be suspended if weather conditions necessitate it. … Transferees to the British zone will be fed and medically examined. Onward movement will be in enclosed railway carriages which will be heated if fuel is available.…

and so on. If all this be effected, at last and after untold horrors, the disorderly and inhuman deportations will begin to approach the orderly and humane deportations envisaged at Potsdam. But, even so, there is, and there must be, extreme suffering in the congested Russian zone—how congested, I do not think we know—and in Poland itself where, for Germans, the miseries of remaining there for a time are no less than the miseries of the weary trek westward, and the chance of survival in the one not much greater than the chance of survival in the other.

How many migrants are there east of Berlin? Those who come through to us are practically all women and children—no men. Then there is Berlin itself, of which I will just say this much: for three months this summer the infantile mortality rate in Berlin was 594 per 1,000. One out of every two children died. Forther east, it was higher still. What is it now? Can we know? We may thank God for what the Army calls "Operation Stork" by which our authorities wish to move 50.000 children from Berlin—and have, I believe, moved 20,000 or more of them—to the Western zone where there is more chance of feeding them. What is that among so many? It is something that these 50,000 innocents should be saved from the slaughter. There are people in this country who want to bring 10,000 babies from Berlin to this country for six months or so through the winter, If the Government asked for 10,000 homes to receive those children, I believe they would get them offered within a week.

I have tried, with great restraint; soberly, and chiefly by figures, to indicate the vast volume of under-nourishment, and worse in Central Europe, with all that it means in human distress and suffering, and with the dreadful prospect that it Opens up for millions during this winter. May I now make a few general observations? First, behind the feeding problem, is the industrial and economic problem, beginning with coal and going on to other matters such as those which the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, raised in this House last month. Our purpose must not be to keep Germany on the "dole"; it must be to put it on its feet, and to restore it, at least, to self-maintenance. I mention that aspect, not to discuss it, because I am not competent to discuss it, but, again, to show that I have not forgotten. Secondly, behind the feeding problem, is the moral problem. Is it any concern of ours whether Germans starve and freeze this winter or not? A speaker in another place on this topic said: I do not care two rows of pins what happens to the German people, men, women and children, from a sentimental point of view.

There were cries of "Shame" from those who did care from a sentimental point of view; but it is not really a question of sentiment on one side or the other. It is a question of divine law and of Christian principle, whatever you think or feel about it.

It is the bounden duty of this nation and other nations to do all that is in their power to avert this doom from millions of Germans. And, being a divine law, obedience to it is in many ways—all kinds of ways—beneficial, though benefit is not the reason for obeying it. If it is obeyed, it will, as a speaker in the other place said, help to remove a risk of epidemics spreading from the Continent to our Shores, and it will do far more than that. The Germans, in the main, at this time are listless, apathetic, without hope and without belief. Into that spiritual vacuum anything may come; and something for good or evil will come. In our own zone, there are at least two healthy dispositions to be observed: one, a looking for the Christian faith and to their own churches; the other, a looking in hope to the British nation and to that for which it has always stood. If in our zone they get from this nation an effective and a practical Christianity—food for the physical hunger and a faith in life to meet their spiritual hunger—we shall have done a thing creative of hope in Germany, and, therefore, in Europe as a whole—a positive good to set against the atomic bomb and all the other destructive things in life. Therefore, it is not on sentiment but on principle that we must act.

But act how? My one request to the Government is that they shall undertake to publish monthly statements on conditions in Germany in our zone, giving, as they know them and as they change, the facts, the number of people for whom we axe responsible, the actual provision of food per person, the food standards in the towns, the mortality rates, the conditions of health, of shelter and of clothing, as well as industrial information such as production, unemployment, and so forth. It is terribly hard to get these facts, to know whether things are getting better or worse, and to forecast the future at all. It is very hard to sift the confusion of the reports one sees and to collect what is said by one or another in Parliament or elsewhere. I ask for these monthly statements for this reason. A single White Paper is issued and forgotten, and at any rate does not give that continuous information on which a judgment can be formed. Information and judgment the people of this country must have, for three reasons: first, to understand why their rations must not be increased; secondly, to be prepared for a catastrophe if it comes, and to know why it has come upon Europe; and thirdly, so that if the conditions are mastered, as we pray they may be, and are improved, then the people can give the credit for it where it is due—to the administrators in our zone.

Field-Marshal Montgomery has called this the "Battle of the Winter," and it is perfectly true that it is a battle. Because it is so, all these facts must be known to the Higher Command, or they are not fit to fight the battle. If they are known, then let them be known to us, for in this warfare there is no fear of giving things away to the enemy, for the only enemies are starvation, cold, misery, and nihilism. So I ask that we may have these regular monthly statistical tables, that we may all know what, the position is and how it is progressing. If we could have the same information from other zones as well, it would put all the nations together in this common effort to solve a problem which cannot be solved except by international co-operation.

So I ask lastly, can this battle be won at all? I quote the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood: do not let us assume for a moment that it is inevitable that millions of men and women should die this winter in Europe. He and other people better able to speak than I, have satisfied themselves that there is the necessary food and there can be the necessary shipping, transport and finance to carry it through. We must do our part. I do not suggest any reduction in our rations. I do not think there is a case for it; but there is no case either for an increase in our rations until this thing has been seen through. Only the Government can tell us—and I do not think they have told us yet very convincingly—whether there arc stocks and reserves of food in this country which can safely and reasonably be put at the disposal of Germany. We must do our part, but, of course, in the main, it must come from the countries which can export food. They, like ourselves, must have the facts, and if the nations have the facts I think they will put themselves to see that this work is accomplished. It it an operation of charity, yes indeed, but, more than that, of hope, to expel suspicions and fears in Europe; and more indeed than an operation of hope it is an operation of faith in life, to set against the despairs, the cynicisms, and the pessimisms which grow too thickly around us. I beg to move for Papers.

3.35 p.m.


My Lords, like every member of the House, I am moved to great sadness by the picture the most reverend Primate has just given us. He is speaking with authority, and information coming from so eminent a source must indeed receive keen attention. It is to be hoped that it will, from this House, have the effect of bringing about some of the improvements he seeks and which we all want. He confines himself to suggestions as to what the Government should do in one particular zone, adding that he hoped it would be done in other zones, too. All would agree indeed with that hope. The terms of the Motion call attention to the "distress prevailing in Central Europe," but he confined himself almost entirely, save in a passing reference, to that part of Central Europe occupied by people who caused so recently the deaths of many of our fellow-countrymen and our Allies, and who have been the means of bringing unmeasured distress to enormous populations throughout the world. Those who go to war take the risk.


May I ask the noble Lord if he would describe German children in that way?


I refer to the territory occupied by the German people. While in no way failing to associate myself to the full with all the grounds for compassion for which the most reverend Primate has appealed to us, I prefer to address myself to territories occupied by our Allies rather than by our late enemies. The Motion refers to Central Europe, but the most reverend Primate confines himself almost entirely to the area occupied by Germans. I think, speaking geographically, that the portion of Europe east of Germany is more correctly the centre of Europe. It is for that reason that I intend, for the short time it is proper for anyone to occupy in this debate, to confine myself particularly to Poland. I believe the plight of Poland is worse than that of any other part of Central Europe; and the Poles were our Allies, not our enemies. They made no attempt to cause misery by going to war; they were the first target of aggression. It is for that people that I hope I can claim some measure of compassion from your Lordships with equal justification to that of the most reverend Primate in the compassion for which he so rightly appeals.

There is over Poland to-day a complete journalistic black-out. It is very difficult to get the exact facts, but information does come out now, as it did during the war. Italy was an enemy country, but the degree of interest taken in helping to a return to the freedoms for which President Roosevelt appealed, has been much more active in regard to Italy than in regard to Poland. I do not need to remind the House that the position of Poland before the war was commercially complementary to our position in this country. I address myself to the practical reasons why I appeal for compassion for the Poles, and, better than that, for improvement in the conditions of Poland. I need not remind your Lordships of the historic qualities of the Poles, which have been brought out to the full during this war, but it is of interest to note the vitality of their national characteristic during the period of long repression before the restoration of the previous Polish Republic occurred. We remember that on Good Friday of 1939 this country gave assurances to Poland which were, unfortunately, not followed by the assistance which might have been expected. I refer particularly to a smaller matter, to the loan of a few million pounds which was virtually agreed to in the summer of 1939 but which was refused in June of that year. There is, however, no doubt about Polish resistance in 1939, and as a result her losses, military and civilian, were grievous. Her civilian losses were certainly greater than those suffered by this country during the war. Then she was subjected to an attack by her Eastern neighbour when, if my memory is correct, there was a pact of non-aggression in force. Whatever may be said about the past, there is no doubt throughout the war the one Ally which never collaborated with the enemy was Poland.

I have referred to the complete blackout over Poland. What the position there is few of us know, but many of us have deep misgivings. It appears that Poland's neighbours to the east have a very strong influence on her whole economy and life. I have read recently what I believe to be authoritative statements of the position in Poland. I quote from one of them now: "Terror continues to he the chief means of imposing authority in the present system" and "Various Departments are in the hands of agents belonging to the Security Service." That is not the basis on which the Four Freedoms were intended to work. What are the reasons for the distress? We must not forget that the Russian Armies in Poland are living on the country, a course which they have always followed in their military arrangements. The control of the Press is entirely dependent upon the paper control and I gather that wireless sets are very rigidly controlled. We should remember that rationing is playing an important part; it is said that the well-known Soviet slogan "Who does not work, does not eat" is imposed to the full. Censorship, too, is being imposed to the full and in that connexion I cannot do better than quote from a report which I have received and which I believe to be correct: In a church paper recently an article contained the sentence, ' Nothing can happen without the wish of the Almighty'. I know that the most reverend Primate will be interested to hear that the last word of that sentence was deleted by the censor. It is for those reasons that I suggest there are grounds for compassion regarding the position in Poland.

It may appear that my remarks about Russia are disparaging. In any reference to Russia it would be ungracious not to pay a generous tribute to the bravery and achievements of her Army, and to the endurance of her civil population. As the most reverend Primate said, the return of commerce is fundamental to the restoration of Poland, and for that reason I address myself to the industrial position in Poland. To correct any impression that I am too critical of Russia, I would say that in another place, shortly after the last war, in 1922, Lord Strabolgi (who is not in his place to-day) and I were active in urging support for the Soviet policy. I believed in all assistance to the Soviets at that time. We were among those who would at least be free from any suggestion of anti-Russian bias at that time. I do not want it to be thought that I am unfairly criticizing Russia. I address the House as a business man who has had intimate relations with Poland, who for perhaps twenty years went to Poland every year, and who knows it well. I am distressed to think of what is being meted out to the population there and I feel more than justified in appealing for compassion for our Allies rather than for compassion, on any Christian grounds, justified as they may be, for our enemies.

I have no objection to collectivism provided it is carried out within its own borders, but I am a robust believer in individualism and I prefer that. However, surely to-day militarism has given place to diplomacy and we should look to diplomacy to achieve more rapid progress towards that for which the Atlantic Charter calls. In my Motion on the Paper I refer to the commercial position of Poland. If we are going to have a policy of full employment we have got to have a policy of high exports; we have got to get into every part of the world whose economic policy permits trade to be carried on with this country. I believe individualistic economy is better than collective economy as a means of giving full employment in this country. It seems to me that British diplomacy is now on test, but surely there can be no need to suppress misgivings as to what goes on in a country where freedom of the Press is denied and in certain areas of which free elections are perhaps unnecessarily postponed.

I have the greatest respect for the efforts made by the Foreign Secretary. He is entitled to our sympathy; and it would be improper for anyone to say anything which would be embarrassing about a policy which is obviously aimed at achieving the objects for which the most reverend Primate has appealed. There are many, however, who have misgivings as to how posterity will judge the way in which the Yalta agreement is being carried out. I have tried to seek a realistic approach to an appeal for attention to and compassion with the distress in Central Europe east of the territory occupied by our enemies. I associate myself completely with the eloquent and moving appeal of the most reverend Primate in regard to the area for which he has appealed, while seeking to associate with it an appeal for the area further east. In those circumstances, I do not wish to move my Motion.

3.51 p.m.


My Lords, I do not propose to follow Lord Barnby into the many and detailed issues which he has raised about Poland. It is not that I do not sympathize with the sufferings of Poland as profoundly as he does and as, I believe, do all the members of this House. It is because I feel that the most useful service that I can perform is to follow the most reverend Primate on the wider questions which he raised in his very eloquent speech. Let me say to Lord Barnby, however, that I do not think it is the case of a dilemma between helping Germany and helping Poland; I suggest to him that the practical question before us is where most usefully we can get something done.

On that account, I agree very strongly with the most reverend Primate when he concentrated so much of his attention on the British zone, where we have a certain liberty of manœuvre. That does not mean that we have not the greatest possible sympathy with the suffering in Poland, in the Balkans, and indeed throughout the world; but, as one who wishes to see something clone, I venture to draw the attention of the House once again to the issues raised by the most reverend Primate.

In particular, I should like to reinforce his request for regular information. I have twice pressed the need for regular information on the attention of the House. Each time, first by the Under-Secretary of State for War and secondly by the Secretary of State for India and Burma, I have had a very courteous reply, but as far as regular information goes we seem to be no nearer getting it than when I raised the question in the House at the beginning of October. Let me say once again why, in my view, we need this regular information. judging by myself, I believe that the country is very ignorant of the real state of affairs. So far as I am concerned, I have to gather scraps and pieces of information from the Press, and from individuals who come here from time to time, and so on. I do not know whether the information which I possess is accurate. There was an instance of that difficulty in the debate last week. I quoted figures for the men and women who are at present without homes in Europe. Those figures were given to me by an experienced administrator who was dealing with relief, but they differed substantially from the figure which my noble friend Lord Pethick-Lawrence gave me in his reply. The way in which he gave that figure, however, left me with the impression that the Government really had not any very accurate figures on the subject.

I realize the difficulties, and that with these immense problems in our zone it may be difficult to collect statistics, but I venture to urge on the Government that, if we are to have an instructed public opinion here, we must have these figures; and without an instructed public opinion we shall have a state of ignorance varied by emotional hysteria. At one time we, shall have an outcry from the people who say: "Let us clear out of Europe; Europe is in such a hopeless condition that there is nothing we can do." On the other hand, we shall have people who, looking at the suffering there, will say: Let us cut our rations in half in order to send more relief to Europe." We need full and regular information, as a result of which the public will become informed, will realize the scope of the problem, and will see whether it is beyond our powers to deal with it. They will also see, if it is within our powers to deal with it, what the Government are actually doing. There is no difference of opinion, I think, between the people who hold the views that I hold and the Government, and I believe that the Government would strengthen themselves if they gave this information fully and regularly to the country.

That leads me to the two or three other points that I want to make. My second point is the need for speed in dealing with these problems. My memory goes back to the period after the Armistice at the end of the last war. Shortly after that period I was myself interested in questions of this kind when I worked with Dr. Nansen at Geneva. If your Lordships look back at what happened at that time and study it impartially, I think you will come to the conclusion that almost irreparable harm was done as a result of the delay that took place after the Armistice, before organizations for relief and reconstruction were started. To give a single instance, your Lordships will remember the great influenza epidemic that devastated Europe. I believe that that was not a little due to the fact that action was not taken with sufficient speed. I venture to recall that experience to the attention of the noble Lord opposite in order to reinforce this constant argument for speed—for speed, even though it may sometimes mean mistakes. If speedy action is not taken, I fear that we shall see these epidemics starting in Europe. We shall see so much devastation and exhaustion that it will take twice the time it otherwise would for Europe to recover.

Let me say, incidentally, that the recovery of Europe, quite apart from the moral considerations so eloquently stressed by the most reverend Primate, affects us vitally. Somehow or other we have got not only to get our export market restarted but to increase it. If your Lordships will look at the statistics of pre-war trade, you will find that our export market depended for twenty per cent. upon the European market. Looking at the issue, therefore, from the purely material point of view, apart from the great moral considerations involved, it is essential that we get Europe on to its legs at the earliest possible moment. This is not a question of a soft peace for Germany. I approach this question with the sole intention of making Germany help itself and the rest of Europe to recover. It is a question upon which the future of this country, to a very large extent, depends. In a further word to noble Lords opposite, I would again insist upon the need for speed. These questions cannot be held up indefinitely while all sorts of bigger agreements are attempted to be made between the great Allies. I think, myself, that President Truman was well justified the other day when he told a Press conference in Washington that in certain of these questions the United States intended to go ahead. Well, I hope that, equally, we intend to go ahead. We have great opportunities and we have great interests at issue.

Let me, in conclusion, remind the noble Lords opposite that we have undertaken a very heavy obligation. This is what Mr. Winston Churchill, then Prime Minister, said on behalf of the Coalition Government in 1940: We can and we will arrange in advance for the speedy entry of food into any part of the enslaved area, when this part has been wholly cleared of German forces and has genuinely regained its freedom. We shell do our best to encourage the building up of reserves of food all over the world so that there will always be held before the eyes of the peoples of Europe, including—I say it deliberately—the German and Austrian peoples, the certainty that the shattering of the Nazi power will bring to them all immediate food, freedom and peace.

4.5 p.m.


My Lords, those of us who, in your Lordships' House, have, during the past year, raised on various occasions the question of distress in Europe, can only feel it a source of immense gratification and encouragement that the most reverend Primate has put down and discoursed upon this Motion to-day. I do most earnestly hope that the plea which he has made for increased and regularly produced information will not be disregarded by the Government. It is not only a question of individuals. I agree that this problem is far too big for charitable organizations to do more than nibble at it. At the same time, there are numbers of charitable organizations of various denominations and various types interested in working in this field, and with the amount of authentic information which is available to-day they arc all perplexed as to what is the best channel into which to divert such resources as they may possess. That position can only be corrected, and those resources can only be profitably guided, if we have official information upon which to base plans.

The people of this country do not like horrors. Photographs of concentration camps are looked at very quickly and equally quickly put aside. Discourses upon the state of affairs in Europe are not unlikely to receive similarly brief attention. I think that the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, who has just spoken, was right in saying that, as a whole, the country has not appreciated either the magnitude or the gravity of the problem which lies ahead. Lest any of your Lordships may have doubts as to the magnitude or the gravity of the problem, mat' I give one illustration which may not previously have reached all of your Lordships?

Your Lordships will remember that when the concentration camps were overrun by the advancing Armies, the doors opened, sometimes from outside, and sometimes from inside, and those who had spent years inside the camps, as was inevitable, broke out, in many cases, and made their own way to those countries which, in the years before their confinement, had been their homes. Amongst them were, of course, numbers who found their way back to their previous places of residence in Poland. It is an almost unbelievable, but, unfortunately, quite authentic fact that those same people who seven months ago were jointly breaking out of those camps and who set forth with such high hopes to return to their former places of residence, are now—sometimes accompanied by relatives whom they have managed to collect in the course of their wanderings—actually making their way back to the concentration camps, because those camps are to them the only places they can find, after all their wanderings, where they may be, to some degree, sure of shelter and warmth and food. If that is the state to which Europe is reduced, there can be little doubt of the duty which lies upon those more happily-placed countries to give such succour as they can.

This state of affairs in Europe, and we must not forget it, is by no means a fortuitous condition. It is, to a very large extent, the result of deliberate policy on the part of the German hierarchy who directed the war. They intended that if they went down, what was left of Europe should go down with them. Although one war finished seven months ago it left us with another war to begin and, although the enemy was different, at the same time the new enemy had at least the best wishes of the old enemy behind him; but the great change was in the tempo of our operations in the second as distinct from the first. Perhaps the end of the first war came more rapidly than had been expected. There have certainly been ever since the actual end of hostilities indications of anxiety but not, surely, of the sense of urgency which lies behind the whole of this problem if a real disaster is to be avoided in Europe.

A little while ago I ventured to urge on the Government that something in the nature of a Supreme Economic Council was necessary to co-ordinate all the resources available and which can be made available in the world and to direct them into the channels most necessary. On that occasion, the noble and learned Lord said that the Government were extremely anxious about the situation, and indeed no one can wonder at their anxiety. At the same time he was not prepared to accept the particular proposals. I set no special store on that actual proposal but I do want to see some body set up upon which at least the great Allies and the great food-producing nations will be represented, which will cover a wider field than U.N.R.R.A. is allowed to cover by its constitution and by its terms of reference, and which will see that the whole area which requires treatment is properly covered. U.N.R.R.A. is too limited for the big objective. We have not got to see that the biggest piece of relief work that U.N.R.R.A. did in its history was to relieve the conscience of the Governments of the Allied nations from feelings of further responsibility. You cannot set up U.N.R.R.A., shelter behind it, and say, "This is our accredited agency and we have no further responsibility in the matter." The need is very urgent and time is very short. I believe that the system is by no means beyond redemption, but further time must not be wasted. Winter is upon us already and unless we grapple with this problem here and now, to many of the inhabitants of Europe there will be no Spring.

4.15 p.m.


My Lords, in common with other members of this House, I have listened to the moving and eloquent speeches delivered from all quarters. If I may be allowed to do so, I should like to pay my tribute of respect to the most reverend Primate who opened this discussion, for the spirit in which he approached this grave and difficult matter and for the eloquent appeal he has made to the Government with regard to it. I should like to echo the sentiments of grave concern which have been forthcoming from the noble Lords who have taken part in the debate since that speech. I should like to associate myself and His Majesty's Government with what the most reverend Primate said, arid I think I am correct in saying that the vast masses of people of our country will wish to be associated with it. We all recognize the gravity of the problem. We all realize the urgency of it, and the only question, I do not say which divides us, but which has led, to these discussions, is the steps that we can take in order to attempt to prevent the catastrophe which may occur. When I say catastrophe, I fully share the views of the most reverend Primate. Humanity makes demands on us which those who have a moral conscience, cannot possibly neglect; but even if we ire not moved by humanity we must remember that disease and unrest are likely to spread through areas where there are want and suffering, starvation and cold, and disease and unrest know no frontiers of nations and may well bring their pernicious heritage to people in lands other than those where they have their origin.

Perhaps I had better deal in the first place with the demand for greater information. His Majesty's Government certainly have every wish to lay all the information at their disposal before your Lordships and before the country, and I will certainly put before the Chancellor of the Duchy the suggestion that has been made that a monthly statement on the conditions in Germany as to food and clothing should be made, in so far as the information reaches us. I think that the most reverend Primate confined himself to the British zone but the noble Viscount asked me to give you the facts—he made no complaint about the matter—with regard to the number of homeless people throughout the whole of Germany. He complained—and I am not objecting to that—that the figures so far were inadequate. In the last debate, to which he referred, I took his remark to refer to displaced persons and I told him that so far as they were concerned the number was well below 15,000,000. I gather today, however, that he is not confining himself to displaced persons but that he is thinking of all persons without any home or shelter.

I must point out that it is quite impossible for the Government to collect facts and figures throughout the whole of Germany,' throughout all the different zones, as to the number of persons without home and shelter. It would be very difficult to collect that information in this country, and that fact, when you remember that it is suggested that we gather it with the very limited personnel we have not only in our own zone but also in the zones of France and the United States, and still more in the large tracts under the U.S.S.R., indicates how impossible it would be for us to get a census from those areas, and to give a figure which had any pretence at accuracy on so wide and extensive a subject. Although I will certainly do my best to get such information as is available, and I will certainly make the suggestion to my honourable friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster as to providing information regularly—it may be monthly —I am afraid I cannot promise that it will be as full of detail as the noble Viscount asks that it should be.


The last thing I wish to do is to ask for what is impossible. I believe, however, that when the Government prepare This report they will find that there is a great deal more information than possibly the noble Lord opposite thinks to-day. There is obviously certain information which is available. Let us have that, and let us have as much more as we can get. We want some information of some kind.


I am obliged to the noble Viscount for the interruption, but that is what I have already promised to suggest to the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. Obviously I cannot answer his question here and now and make a promise on behalf of another member of the Government, but I will certainly lay the point before him and—


I have made this request twice. I made it to the Secretary of State for Air on October 13, but nothing has happened. The only answer the noble Lord has given is to repeat what the Secretary of State for Air said to me on October 13.


I am afraid I cannot go beyond that at the moment. I was not aware the question had been asked all that time ago. The most reverend Primate asked a question with regard to the immigration that we anticipated into our zone. I did endeavour to answer that question when it was asked by the noble Viscount in the last debate. I then said it was anticipated—we cannot give you figures with any great accuracy—that something like one and a half million immigrants from Poland would come into our zone before the summer of next year. I have reason to hope that we shall not have to deal with immigrants from other parts of Europe as well; those from Poland will be almost all that we shall have to deal with.

The most reverend Primate also said that he was very anxious to see the restoration of Germany to self-maintenance. I would go further than that and add—as I think the noble Viscount would —that it is not sufficient that Germany should be restored to a position of self maintenance; she should he restored to a position in which she can supply industrial equipment to Europe on something like the scale she did before the war.


I did not say that; I simply said take its share.


That is what I intended to convey. Before the war, German industrial apparatus was such that she played a very active part in the industrial life of Europe. What I am trying to say is that I agree it will be desirable that the industrial life of Europe, and its economic survival, should be provided, in part, by Germany. In bringing forward his Motion, the most reverend Primate did not say a great deal about U.N.R.R.A., and 1 noticed that the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, said that U.N.R.R.A. was too small for certain purposes and too large for others. Let us see what U.N.R.R.A. has done, because, after all, U.N.R.R.A. is an institution of very considerable magnitude. His Majesty's Government have recently agreed to a further contribution to U.N.R.R.A. of £75,000,000, making, with the previous contribution, a total of £155,000,000 which is, approximately, two per cent. of the national income for the year ended 1943. That is a very large sum, and a very considerable contribution to the needs of Europe.


Could we have a statement in the monthly reports as to how our contribution has been spent?


I could riot answer that straight away; that is a matter for U.N.R.R.A. Our money has been paid to U.N.R.R.A.


Do not we know how it is spent?


I cannot say, at the moment, what reports U.N.R.R.A. publishes, but, certainly, their funds are very nearly exhausted. They have spent the money arid how they spent the money will be made known in due course.


May I ask the noble Lord one thing, because I was at the first meeting of U.N.R.R.A.? Ten per cent. of our contribution alone was payable in cash; £80,000,000 was to be in cash and convertible currency, and £72,000,000 was to be spent in this country. Surely, the Government ought to know on what that £72,000,000 was spent?


I cannot give these facts in immediate response to questions of this kind.


We do not ask for immediate response. We ask that the information should be contained in the reports you are going to issue.


I hope that may be possible but I cannot approximate in what way U.N.R.R.A. has spent the money so far in its possession, although I will do my best to see that such information is available, if possible. Let me continue as to the raising of money for U.N.R.R.A. As I said, we have contributed from this country—and I think it is a very creditable thing—no less than £155,000,000 towards the funds of U.N.R.R.A., and I could only wish that all the other nations concerned in its formation had been able to contribute on anything like the same scale. His Majesty's Government regard it as of supreme importance that all the nations concerned, and particularly those who have riot themselves suffered as acutely as we have, should share with us the responsibility for providing the funds out of which alone the recovery of many of the devastated areas can be taken care of. I may say that when U.N.R.R.A. began, for the first time, to ship for themselves last April, they shipped a total of 25,000 tons of supplies. By the end of September this year they had shipped nearly 2,000,000 tons, and by the end of October this figure had risen to 2,666,000 tons. It is anticipated that by the end of this year that figure will have reached 4,000,000 tons. The value of these supplies is about £250,000,000, nearly the whole of which has gone to Czechoslovakia, Poland, Yugoslavia and Greece. Those are the facts which I am in a position to give to your Lordships' House and, no doubt, as time goes on, it will be possible to give further facts.

Let me say a word about the foodstuffs from the United Kingdom. During the past twelve months, the United Kingdom has made very substantial contributions to the needs of Europe. At the end of October our stocks of food had been reduced by more than 1,500,000 tons to assist the liberated countries of Europe. We have now pretty well gone to the full length of what we can spare from our own stocks to relieve this problem. The most reverend Primate asked me a specific question. He asked whether there were stocks in this country which would see the British zone in Central Europe over the winter. I am afraid the answer to that is definitely No. We have some stocks to supply this country. We have made very great inroads into those stocks, and it is impossible that a small country like our own could, out of the stocks which it has provided to take care of its own people during the coming months, supply the whole of the needs of that zone in Europe. The noble Viscount quoted some words of Mr. Winston Churchill in 1940. Of course, the devastation in Europe in 1940 was only then beginning. Immense provisions were made, but I cannot undertake to say that the stocks in our possession are sufficient to tide Europe completely over the winter.

We must look, therefore—and let us not shirk the issue—to the countries that export food, to the countries which have a surplus, to supply the balance of that requirement. I would like to tell the House, however, that efforts have been made by His Majesty's Government to relieve the situation. The Ministry of Food has carried out a careful investigation into all stocks of food in this country, especially stocks held on behalf of the Army for special operations, in order to see whether any quantities from these sources could be made available for the British zone. In the light of this inquiry, certain quantities of food are now being sent from the civilian stocks in the United Kingdom and from military reserves, but no further quantities can be expected from these sources. A similar inquiry into the stocks and provision of blankets and so on, is also being carried out.

I have covered, as far as I am able, a great many of the points that have been raised in the course of this debate, and my noble friend the Under-Secretary of State for War, who will be replying later on, will no doubt be able to deal with many of the points to which I have not had an opportunity to refer. I would like, before I sit down, to say one word with regard to a. part of Central Europe which has not so far been mentioned in this debate, and that is Austria. The position in Austria, although grave, is less serious than that in Germany. In normal times, Austria made up the greater part of her deficiencies from the Danube Basin, but supplies have not been forthcoming from those sources since the cessation of hostilities. We are, however, pressing for this channel to be reopened. The Conference of Foreign Ministers agreed a target ration of 1,550 calories for the normal consumer in Austria, and recommended that this should be increased to 2,000 calories as soon as the general supply position permitted. In most districts the 1,550 calories ration is now being implemented and, as I think has already been said in this debate, that is the figure which has been reached for Germany, though it is quite true, as the noble Viscount said, that the position of the people in the country in Germany is at any rate better than that of those in the towns, and it is only with very great difficulty that we can reach that figure in the towns.


May I interrupt the noble Lord? He has addressed himself almost entirely to the question of material relief. Before he sits down I hope he will address himself to some of the questions of administrative relief in Central Europe, particularly those to which I drew attention in my remarks.


I think I will leave that to my noble friend the Under-Secretary of State for War, who will deal particularly with the question of Poland to which the noble Lord referred.

In conclusion, I can only say this. By the admission of everyone, this is a very grave, a very serious, problem. The present Government—I am making no complaint about it—inherited this problem from their predecessors. It is a problem which the Government of Britain, whatever Party were in power, and whatever the form of government, cannot solve alone. It can quite clearly only solve this problem as a whole in co-operation with the other great Allies, and in particular with those countries, whether allied or neutral, who are exporting countries and who have therefore the physical means at their disposal for dealing with the matters which we all realize are so very grave. The situation created by a war of this magnitude, with the devastating character of the war and the reckless attitude of the Germans, is not one that can be put right in a few weeks or a few months, or, I am afraid, even in a few years.

I do not believe that to set up another Commission, as the noble Marquess suggested, is going to be a solution of the problem. With the great field the Commission would have to cover, by the time it had made its report the situation would have greatly changed; it changes from day to day. We do not want Commissions; we want action, immediate action and speed, as the noble Viscount said. Speaking as a member of His Majesty's Government, I can only say that we do recognize all these facts. The Government are endeavouring, by every means in their power, in conjunction with the other countries, to solve these problems. They will lose no opportunity to bring such pressure to bear as they can to help in the solution of these problems. They Will certainly not withhold information which it is suitable to lay before the people of this country to enable them to understand what is happening and to meet the wishes of the people in order to get this very difficult problem solved.

4.40 p.m.


My Lords, I was brought closely into touch with analogous problems when I was Minister for Economic Warfare in the last Government. We had a number of debates in this House on the effect produced on the occupied countries of Europe by the blockade, but the condition of affairs in the occupied countries of Europe then, so far as I can judge from such information as reaches me now, was nothing like as bad as the position which now theatens in Central Europe.

I should like to thank the most reverend Primate for having raised this question again, and for having raised it in the way he did. The whole of our concern in this matter is a question of Christian principle and Christian duty. This is not a question at all of a soft peace for Germany. I am one of those who believe that the future peace of the world will best be assisted by the most severe peace that can be imposed on Germany in order to prevent her from rearming. But brutality, callousness and unnecessary suffering would not help towards that end in the slightest degree; in fact, to my mind, it would have precisely the opposite effect. As noble Lords have recognized this afternoon, we have, by virtue of conquest, incurred a certain obligation, the obligation of seeing that the people we now govern are sufficiently fed to keep them alive and in tolerable health. It is because the information that reaches us in that respect is so disquieting that there is so much anxiety in this country.

I confess I was not encouraged by the reply on behalf of His Majesty's Govern- ment given by the noble Lord who has just sat down. If I may say so with great respect, I think it is lamentable that there has been a failure on such an elementary point as the supplying of information. The request made by my noble friend Lord Templewood nearly two months ago has apparently received no attention at all by His Majesty's Government. So far as I can make out, this afternoon was the first time the noble Lord had ever heard of that request. He is the Minister who is replying on behalf of His Majesty's Government; yet he appears to have been wholly unaware that Lord Templewood and other noble Lords had pressed for this information two months ago. Therefore, when the most reverend Primate made this afternoon this vital request for regular information the noble Lord treated it as an entirely new request.

Have not the people of this country a right to be informed of what is happening, so far as His Majesty's Government have the information in their possession? After all, it is the King's soldiers and Forces who arc occupying the British zone, it is the taxpayers of this country who are footing the bill for our share of the expense, and it is the Government who are their representatives. Accordingly, the people of this country have every right to be told exactly what His Majesty's Government know of the situation in the occupied zone of Europe, how bad the distress is, and in detail what the Government are doing to relieve that distress. Therefore I hope His Majesty s Government will show a little more energy and a little less lethargy in dealing with this terrible problem. As the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, said, speed is of vital importance in this matter. The grip of winter is now upon us and anything that can be clone now will be far more valuable than the same thing done in the months of February or March.

I agree with every word that fell from my noble friend Lord Barnby about Poland—our most loyal and gallant Ally, whose position to-day is utterly pitiable. However, the problem in regard to Poland, to my mind, is essentially different. All we can do in regard to Poland is to make representations to our Russian Ally, and I would suggest, to publish everything we know about conditions there. In the portion of Europe which we are occupying the position is different and we have an opportunity of doing a great many things we cannot do elsewhere. I am certain that the people of this country recognize, as your Lordships have recognized this afternoon, the moral duty that rests on us to see that those things are done in order to preserve human life. I agree entirely with Lord Pethick-Lawrence when he said that England cannot hope to solve this problem by herself. That, of course, is abundantly true. The great food problem of Europe must, to a major extent, be solved by those countries that produce the food and export it, that is, America and the Dominions. Another reason for publishing all the facts is that the people of the Dominions and of America may be made fully aware of conditions in Central Europe. I am quite certain that they will recognize their moral responsibility in the matter every bit as much as we do.

But because we cannot entirely solve the problem ourselves is no reason why we should not make the utmost effort to do everything within our power. I cannot help feeling there are a number of comparatively small—I say "comparatively small" because the whole problem is so vast—things we can do and which would save a great many lives. For instance, I would like to see orphaned babies from Central Europe brought to this country and either received by householders willing to accept them, or placed in hospitals or creches which could be established in some of the palatial military camps which the American Army have recently vacated. The point is that we have the accommodation here. We have people who would be willing to give voluntary help in looking after these children, and if there were not sufficient of them we could bring nurses with the children from Germany. Accommodation is, I understand, one of the great problems in Germany. It would seem, at any rate to laymen, that there would be less transport involved in bringing a given number of babies to this country and feeding them here than in having to feed them in Germany. The most reverend Primate suggested a figure of 10,000 children. Noble Lords opposite may say that that would be no solution of the problem, and would be a mere drop in the ocean. I hope they will not say that, or think it; however small a number of lives can be saved, if they can be saved I feel that we ought to take this step.

We read in the newspapers that hundreds of thousands of women and girls—not men—are coming across from Russian-occupied Germany into the British zone. What is going to be done with them in the British zone? Here is this great new population, driven into an area which was never a food-exporting area but always a food-importing area, and there is no organized assistance or employment awaiting them. Again it seems to me that many thousands of them could be usefully employed in this country. We are already employing a large number of German men as prisoners of war. I should like to see a voluntary recruitment of German women who want to come here and work as land girls, as domestic servants, as orderlies in hospitals, or indeed at any other task for which they are qualified.

I submit that that would not be adding to the food problem of this country, because all those people would be paying their way, as it were, and helping us in the battle of production. There is little doubt that we could find useful employment for many thousands of able-bodied German women in this country. Only yesterday the Leader of the House was lamenting the position with which agriculture is faced in view of the impending reduction in the number of land girls and voluntary workers employed in agriculture, and the impending return of Italian prisoners of war. I am told that many thousands of these German girls would be very glad indeed to be allowed to come to England for one, two or three years, and I feel that a step taken in that direction might be not only a means of saving their lives but also of material assistance to us in our problems here.

I confess also that I should like to see permission given to people in this country who are willing to forego part of their own rations, to send individual parcels to some clearing station in this country which could send them en bloc to where they are most needed in Europe. I realize that I shall have against me in making that plea not only the Minister of Food and the Ministry of Food but also all ex-Ministers of Food as well. I recognize that this is a very technical question, and if they assure me as experts that it could not be-done without producing very grave evils in this country. I stand to be corrected. But I should like to make this point about it. It is not so much a matter of the amount of food that could be sent in that way. I agree that the rations in this country are not excessive. On the whole, they arc only just sufficient for the general run of the population. But it is a physical fact that some people can do with considerably less food than others, and what is an adequate general ration for the majority of people in this country may be, and I think is in some cases, an unnecessarily; ration for certain individuals.

There are some individuals, therefore, who without any injury to their own health could consume less food than they are now consuming. But it is not the amount of food that could be sent in this way to Germany which is important; it is, I think, the moral gesture of many thousands of people—and I think there would be many thousands—denying themselves and going short in order to give what help they could to people worse off than themselves in Central Europe. That would be very valuable from all points of view. I hope, therefore, that the experts, who can always confound us with technical objections, will bear these somewhat imponderable considerations in mind before they condemn this scheme as Utopian.

I hope that when my noble friend the Under-Secretary of State for War replies he will be able to assure and convince us that His Majesty's Government arc prepared to take more active and energetic steps in this matter than thereof there have yet been signs.

4.58 p.m.


My Lords, it will be agreed that the speeches from all quarters of the House to which we have listened this afternoon reflect a great advance in public interest in the distress of Europe. There can be no doubt as to the scale of that distress. Russia, Poland, Italy, France, Greece and many other countries in varying degrees have all suffered, and all in varying degrees need help. I am very glad that the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, recalled the pledge given by Mr. Churchill in August, 1940, a pledge in which all political Parties were united, that on the shattering of the Nazi power there should be immediate food brought in both to the invaded countries and to Germany and Austria as well—countries which were deliberately included by the late Prime Minister. Nothing that I am about to say with regard to Germany, the author of those crimes which have brought all this suffering upon the world, can take away from us our duty to help Poland, Russia and all other countries in need, where required; but I turn to Germany, which is the special theme of this debate, and I venture to speak of that country with some recent first-hand knowledge of its conditions, for I spent there the last fortnight of October, and I received and retain a very vivid impression of the situation there.

I should like, before I describe briefly what I found, to pay my tribute to the kindness of the Control Commission and of the Military Government, to acknowledge the facilities which they so generously afforded me, and also to repeat what has already been said as to the magnificence of the work done for displaced persons by the British Army and by the American Army. In particular, I want to express my admiration of the unselfishness, the ability and the kind spirit of administration that distinguishes those in charge of the Control Commission and Military Government in the British zone. I believe that if the Government were to give those local administrators the things they require, the necessary work would be done and the urgent need, which is now being more fully recognized, would, and could, be met before it is too late.

The dominating fact—everyone there will tell you this—in Germany, on the Military Government side, is the colossal destruction done by the bombing. The devastation is on an incredible scale. You can hardly believe your eyes when you look upon it. It is certainly impossible to get an idea of it faun any pictures. Town after town of any size is destroyed. There is obliteration; buildings of all kinds are razed to the ground. You may see it if you go through Munster or Bielefeld or Hamburg, or Pforzheim near Karlsruhe, as I did, or—as I did not, but I am assured that the picture is as bad there as anywhere—the towns of the Ruhr. In those places you will see what human eyes can hardly apprehend; and as to Berlin it is an inferno in ruins. The physical devastation is, of course, overwhelming, but one must remember—and this is what the Military Government points out to one —the effect of the physical devastation on the minds and the morale of the inhabitants. They are stunned.

Now it is with this background that you have to look at certain of the elements in the general situation. Take food first. The food situation right through Germany broke down in November, 1944, when the Germans knew that they were to be defeated. The reserves of food which most German housewives still possessed were gradually dissipated, and a finish was put to these local cupboard reserves by a great deal of looting in May and June. In the British zone, 12,000,000 tons of food are required, in normal times, to supply the population, the official figure for which is 17,000,000 persons. Of that 12,000,000 tons, 4,000,000 tons are, in normal times, imported. Now your Lordships have already heard that the calories allowance is 1,500—hardly more than half the normal requirement of an adult—and the only staple food on which reliance can be had consists of wheat and potatoes.

Then there is the question of the supply of fuel. The Ruhr, in the British zone, has been improving its production since British control was imposed, but, as your Lordships will have read in The Times yesterday, the French are complaining that far too little coal is produced or is available for liberated countries in the Ruhr, and that the estimates on which liberated countries were fed have proved too high. The priorities for coal are in this order: —essential industries, liberated countries and, last, German domestic needs. The result is that there is no coal for houses. There is some wood, of course, in the country, but not very much is available for the towns. There is an immense shortage of lorries. Much of the destruction has been brought upon the Germans by their Nazi dictators. They committed suicidal acts during their retreat, actually blowing up the bridges. The result of all these circumstances is that, in this battle of the winter, Germans throughout Germany will not only be extremely short of food—in many cases they will not merely he hungry but will actually be starving—but they will freeze

Then there is the great deficiency of clothing. If there were a sufficient supply of clothes or blankets, they would, in some measure, compensate for the lack of fire. But the supply of clothes is very meagre indeed. There is next—and I really speak of this objectively, as it appears to a person who has to solve an administrative and governmental problem—the problem caused by the destruction of the houses in the towns. It really was extraordinarily difficult to understand how the people found places in which to live, except on the fringes of the towns. But they live in holes and corners, in cellars, and one does not know where else. Building materials are very short, glass is very difficult to obtain, but I believe that it is the ambition of the Control Commission to see that everybody has, at least, a waterproof roof over his head by January next.

On top of all these things, which I have mentioned, there are the refugees. I believe that the actual number of deported people in Germany—as it now is —amounts to 8,500,000, of whom 4,000,000 are wanderers, and some of these will find their way, under the Government scheme, into the British zone—perhaps quite a large number. I should like to recall a scene in a military barracks in Berlin at which I was present on the last Monday in October. There was a gathering of homeless, penniless, outcast, hungry, ill, frozen souls, mostly Women and children. Many of them were covered with sores, and as they stood there with their little packages, they presented a picture of misery and despair. On the blackboard giving the figures for the day, I found that in these military barracks there was a total entry for that day of 8,884 of whom 3,665 were women and 3,308 children under fourteen. The ration which each person has in that military barracks is 200 grammes of bread and three-quarters of a litre of soup per day. How can children under fourteen survive? There are very few drugs and some splendid, but far too few, doctors.

Consequential on what I have tried to describe, comes the question of public health. In Berlin in August there was a fearful outbreak of dysentery with a fantastic death-rate. Things are better now. There is much diphtheria, much typhoid but very little typhus, but what is really feared, and is in prospect in February unless speedy action can be taken, is an outbreak of Spanish influenza. The Military Government and Control Commission are preparing for this great battle with disease. They are supplying additional hospitals. They have saved up for this purpose large quantities of drugs and there is a sufficiency of doctors and also of nurses. But it is food which is the greatest preventive of disease and when one of the principal administrators told me these facts one could understand their fears. He spoke of a typhoid outbreak during June in one of the Westphalian towns. He said that of 110 displaced persons who had a ration of 2,000 calories, only two died, but of 460 Germans who had a ration of 1,100 calories, 116 died. He said that the conclusion is surely clear. He also said: "It is the importing of food which worries us. We are doing all we can." I think your Lordships will agree that the prospects, unless drastic and swift action is taken by all means in our power, are pretty grim.

Field-Marshal Montgomery's tostimony has been quoted and so has that of General Eisenhower. Sir John Boyd Orr, who is no prophet of woe and who knows what he is talking about, said on October 5: I believe that in the coming winter in Europe more people will die for lack of food and shelter than were killed in the whole five years of the war. The United States Office of War Information recently said Thousands of people will starve and freeze to death in Europe this winter unless help can be rushed from outside. Tens of thousands of others will be hungry and cold. They will be jobless. What can be done to rush any help from outside? It is true that there is a world shortage of food, although not of wheat. It is true that there is, or was, a scarcity of shipping. It is true that there is great disorganization in internal transport and that lorries seem difficult to come by in sufficient numbers, although one wonders why. But these difficulties, I contend, are not insuperable, certainly not insuperable to Armies who used and scientists who devised "Pluto" and "Mulberry." They are certainly not insuperable to Armies which did anything, rightly, to win a great military campaign. But if you are going to achieve a rescue and save lives on a large scale you must change the existing facts, and this means that if Europe's needs are to be met this winter Britain and the United States must make sacrifices.

I agree with every Minister of Food, past or present, that the British must have enough nourishment, but Mr. Noel-Baker, while he spoke on October 20 with a smile of the dullness of the diet, said that there had been a great improvement in many ways in our health standards during these war years. Lord Horder, on November II, said: Looking at the nation as a whole, it could be argued that we are a healthier, a better nourished nation to-day than we used to be. So I wonder whether this is the moment to introduce Christmas additions to our diet. I wonder, when we speak of this scarcity of shipping, whether this is the moment to import 400,000 tons of cocoa from Africa and the United States or 100,000 tons of meat in the first quarter of this year to Great Britain. The time has not yet come to switch over from war standards of food to normal peace standards.

Still, what are we to do? I would suggest two lines of action, the second being the more important. First, with regard to the action of private individuals. I do not suggest any reduction of rations; I suggest the possibility of food parcels and clothes parcels, and medicine parcels being sent by us through voluntary organizations, in the same way as America allows its citizens to send to the American zone and in the same way as the Swedes are allowed to send to the American zone —and I hear from Sweden this week that they can send to the British zone as well. I believe there are real possibilities in d-formation of collecting centres here for food collections with a view to the distribution of food overseas I also believe in the possibility of voluntary organizations sending food to colonies of German children within Germany and the possibility mentioned by the noble Earl, Lord Selborne, of receiving children from Germany into British homes, according to the plan that has been outlined by Air Vice-Marshal de Crespigny. But it is to the State that we must look for the main action. I am told—though I do not know where—that an announcement has been made that the Minister of Food is about to release 1,000 tons of stocks of food for purchase by private organizations. That is good, but 1,000 tons is not very much. It does not compare very favourably with the 900,000 tons of British food stores which were released for Continental countries last March before VE Day.

I would like to take up with the noble Lord, Lord Pethick-Lawrence, the question of food reserves. Mr. Churchill, in March, spoke of our stocks then as being rather less than 6,000,000 tons. He spoke of the reduction of those stocks to 4,750,000 tons by the end of June through the giving of aid to liberated countries. Mr. James Byrnes told President Roosevelt last autumn that the normal food reserves in Great Britain in peace-time amounted to 1,500,000 tons, and that after VE Day he would suggest that they might be no more than 3,500,000 tons. In May, 1917—the height of the U-Boat campaign—Britain had food reserves of 1,000,000 tons of wheat and enough sugar for four days. These food reserves are not intended to supply our current needs, I understand; they are additional to what is necessary for our current needs. It seems to me that this question of the reduction of our food reserves to a lower figure than that which apparently they now reach might well be reconsidered.

In addition, there is the question of imports of wheat from, I agree, the exporting countries. Wheat can be bought from the United States, from Canada, from the Argentine and from Australia. I should like to ask the noble Lord who will reply whether the British Government are using their position in the Combined Board, which consists of the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada, to buy up food for our own use which may be more urgently required by other countries than our own. I would emphasize—and I am about to conclude—that it is the responsibility of the. State. After all, private initiative can only supplement the State's resources. It is the State's responsibility if the job is to be done. I believe that we ought to import the necessary amount of wheat into Germany and arrange the finance without having to go to private people to pay for 1,000 tons. If the wheat is not imported, millions may die; hundreds of thousands will. I would urge that it belongs to our prestige to set an example in the British zone. The methods of feeding will, no doubt, be thought out and reconsidered. I wonder whether the example of Italy is worth considering. Italy, when first liberated, had a tremendously grave food problem. Now, at any rate, it is under control. They work there, not by giving rations to individuals, but by giving two meals a day in canteens.

I agree that we ought to appeal to the Germans to help themselves, but I would also urge that Field-Marshal Montgomery, with his wonderful gift for touching the common man, should appeal to all ranks in the British Army to take a personal interest and care in fulfilling their tasks as members of the occupying forces. I do not forget that Germany is responsible for all that has come upon her and us. Nothing we can do for Germany can release us from our duty to others, but many things are at stake—the future of Europe, the peace of the world and our good name for humanity. I believe that if we were to explain the facts to the public they would respond. The time to switch over to ordinary peace-time standards has not yet come. The task is a very strenuous one, but it can be fulfilled in co-operation with our Allies. It is imperative that if the rescue, in any shape, is to be achieved, action should be taken before it is too late.

5.26 p.m.


My Lords, I do not propose, at this late hour, to say more than a very few words, especially as most of what I wished to say has already been said either by the most reverend Primate, who introduced the Motion, or by the right reverend Prelate who has just sat down. I find very complete agreement with their points of view, and so I shall be able to be quite brief. I will confine myself, as far as I can, to practical points, to what can actually be done. It is admitted, on all hands, that a great many Germans will die of hunger during this coming winter: The question is, how many? We have, if possible, to reduce the number; we cannot prevent there being a fair number of deaths.

We cannot evade our responsibility in our zone by saying that the fault rests mainly with what the Russians have done and what the Americans have not done, although I am not denying that that is true. The Russians, and the Poles with Russian encouragement have, I regret to say, adopted a policy of vengeance, and have so far as I am able to discover, committed atrocities very much on the same scale and of the same magnitude as those of which the Nazis were guilty. That is a very horrible thing. We do not want to imitate that, but it does not excuse us from doing what we can in our own zone, and I think exactly the same applies to the Americans whose faults are rather those of omission than commission. It is more likely that America will undertake to use powers to do what ought to be done if we do more than our clue share and bring her round to seeing the necessity for the work. The authorities in our zone are coping with matters to the very best of their ability and in a thoroughly humane spirit. I have no doubt whatever that our zone is administered in a more humane mariner than any of the other zones, and all praise should be given to the men who are coping with an appallingly difficult problem.

I believe the men on the spot are doing everything to the utmost of their ability. I have spoken to a good many officers who have been in various parts of Germany, and I found their spirit to be extraordinarily good and everything one could wish. The question therefore arises, what is there that could actually be done? And here it is, with the very greatest regret, that I find myself condemned to be dissatisfied with the Government's attitude. I am a whole-hearted supporter of the present Government, both in their foreign policy and in their home policy, and it is very painful to me to have to be in any degree critical, more especially of my old friend Pethick-Lawrence, a friend of over fifty years' standing, with whom I should wish to be always in the closest possible agreement. Unfortunately on this occasion, however, I do not find that possible. I find in the Government's pronouncement on this question a certain grudging spirit, as though they were looking to see, not how much we can do, but how little. That is not the way to approach the problem. Nor is it right to say that because we cannot do everything that is wanted we will do nothing.

There are things that can be done. The question of food parcels has already been raised. I know there are various objections to food parcels, but I do riot think the same objections apply to the voluntary surrender of points. I know a very large number of people who are willing and even anxious to be allowed to surrender a part of their points for the benefit of the Germans. We are supposed to be rather unable to cut down our food, and no doubt some people are—in fact many people are. Others, however, are quite able to do so. I know that in my own family we should find no difficulty in cutting down our food quite considerably and surrendering a good many points.


It is very different with me.


We should find ourselves thoroughly able to do so. Another point which has been raised already is the question of the use of Army transport. I believe that negotiations are now in progress to enable it to be used for food distribution, but I ask myself why that was not done long ago. The problem was foreseen. It was known transport was going to be one of the difficulties, and there is a lot of. Army transport available which could have been made available sooner. Another point which has already been touched upon but which I should like to touch upon again is the question of the reserves of food in this country. The Minister of Food has refused to let us know what our stocks of food are, and I am not able to see any public ground on which that refusal can be justified. There seems to be no reason why we should not be allowed to know. If, as I believe, the supplies of food that we have in this country are in excess of what is likely to be necessary, I see no reason why some part of that surplus—some considerable part of it—should not be devoted to the relief of the immediate necessities in Germany.

To take one still smaller point (but a great many small points accumulated make a big point), I notice it is said to-day that 75,000 Army blankets are being kept to be sold commercially in this country. I do not see any reason why those 75,000 blankets should not go to Germany. In Germany you have people living in houses that have no roofs, living probably with inadequate clothing, living with the only fuel in the town a very inadequate supply of quite green wood that will not burn properly, and with the winter already in being. I see no reason why those surplus stores that exist, such as blankets, which could be enormously useful, should be put into commercial use here rather than sent oval to Germany. It is impossible for a private person like myself to know of all the things that could be clone in that way, but I am quite sure that if there were sufficient good will it would be found that there were a number of things which, separately small, would total up to quite a large amount.

I come to one other proposal, the proposal specially sponsored by Air Vice-Marshal de Crespigny, to bring over by air to this country a number of German children to be placed in families or institutions on the understanding that the people who undertake their care should supply them out of their own rations. I should be entirely willing myself to take a child on those terms, and I know a great many people, some quite poor, who would be willing to do so. I am not sure whether the Government quite realizes the extent to which people's consciences are stirred by this appalling calamity, especially to the children. After all, I should be the last to minimize the guilt of the Germans who determined German policy, but when you think of quite young children you cannot really say that they are responsible.

It is a dangerous thing to talk of Germany being guilty as if Germany was one entity, like a person. It is not one entity; it is a number of individuals, and you cannot say that children who were not born when the war began, are responsible for the war, or anything the Nazis have done. They are just children like our own, and it is absurd to say that they ought to be punished because their parents were guilty. There is no justice in that at all. I think this proposal to bring over as many children as can be well provided for in this country without any extra call upon rations, is a thoroughly sound one which could be done quickly. All these things which I have mentioned are things that can be done at once. They require no delay if the Government are willing to do them, and I think the Government really are not doing justice to the sense of humanity in the British people. They are trying to dam up that sense of humanity and to say to those of us who would help: "You shall not help; you shall be compelled to go on eating these extra Christmas rations."

There is even talk of increasing the normal rations before very long, and if that were done I should think it a very shocking thing indeed. While there is anywhere absolute destitution in a region we are administering, so long I do not think you have any right to enlarge our own rations beyond what is necessary for health and vigour. So I most profoundly hope that that will not be done until this problem in Germany has been solved. We must learn to feel internationally if we are to have any hope of world peace. There will not be peace in the world so long as we think in terms of nations rather than in terms of individuals, and think it is right that a German child should suffer because German men have been wicked. That sort of thing is the sort that will make wars go on and on and on. We have to learn to think of people just as people, and not in that kind of way. As a stout supporter of the Government I do appeal to them to try to be a little more sympathetic to the point of view of those who are appalled by this misery which has, after all, resulted from our own actions, however justifiable those actions may have been.

5.40 p.m.


My Lords, I think we are all most grateful to the most reverend Primate for introducing this Motion to-day. If your Lordships will allow me to take up your time for a few minutes, I want to deal with two topics: first, U.N.R.R.A., and secondly, some food problems. It is often thought by those who do not know the full history of the question that U.N.R.R.A. is not really performing its job as it should do. At Atlantic City, when I had the honour to lead a delegation from this country, whereas all countries agreed to share the administrative expenses and all countries, other than those whose lands had been overrun, agreed to pay 1 per cent. of their national income for one year to U.N.R.R.A., there were other things on which agreement could not be reached.

When we looked round at some of those countries which were exempted from the 1 per cent. payment, for instance, France, Holland, Belgium and Norway, and found they had far larger foreign balances than we had, it was natural for us to ask them, while they had these large balances—after all, we did something towards keeping those balances with the gold we brought out from Holland and Norway; the Royal Navy did that, as we all remember—to use them to pay for such goods as were coming to them. Rather naturally, although they agreed to that, they said at the same time that if they adopted that course they did not want U.N.R.R.A. to come in and administer what they had bought; they would prefer to administer it in their own countries themselves. Therefore, from the very start, we found U.N.R.R.A. not operating in Norway, Holland, Belgium and. France. Its operations were confined originally, when it could get in, to Greece, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Poland and, I believe, Albania. After a while they were allowed to go into Italy under certain specified conditions.

As early as that: meeting at Atlantic City there were a number of us who realized there would be a problem to be met in Germany. The New Zealand Delegation put down a resolution to enable U.N.R.R.A. to act in Germany, at any rate in regard to looking after displaced persons in that country. That was supported by myself on behalf of the United Kingdom. I am glad to say that the British Commonwealth voted together and that the Americans voted with us; but this was an international assembly, and Russia, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Norway, Holland, Belgium, France and Yugoslavia all voted against us to prohibit: U.N.R.R.A. from operating in Germany at all We were, therefore, defeated in that international assembly. It is, after all, the majority vote that counts. So from the very outset U.N.R.R.A. was not able to operate in that part of the world which we have, in the main, been discussing in this House this afternoon.

U.N.R.R.A. has also had other difficulties. It could not get all the supplies it wanted whilst military production was at its peak in the final years of the war; nor from its set-up was it an easy thing to work. It had to be an international team, and a balanced international team, For instance, when we wanted a Director-General for Europe we found we had to have three, because if there were an Englishman there had to be a Russian, and if there were an Englishman and a Russian there had to be an American. The Trinity may work very well in Heaven but three equal heads of an office is not the best organization when you are dealing with administration here upon earth.

At that early meeting I was authorized to say on behalf of the British Government that we would contribute 1 per cent. of our national income. As I indicated when the noble Lord, the Secretary of State for India, kindly gave way to me, one-tenth of that, £8,000,000, was to be convertible into international currency, but there was a sum of £72,000,000 which was to be spent in this country on goods to be supplied by this country to U.N.R.R.A. The Government must know what goods have been supplied under that £72,000,000. First of all, the Treasury has had to pay the bills, and secondly, either through the Ministry of Supply, the Board of Trade or some other Government Department, orders have had to be given. I press the Under-Secretary of State for War to let us know what we have sent and how much of that £72,000,000 has been spent? I have no doubt the orders have been given for goods which have riot yet been delivered, but it is absurd to make a promise to pay out another £80,000,000 until we know what has been achieved by our first contribution. No military secret is involved in this. I do not expect an answer from the noble Lord, the Under-Secretary of State, this afternoon, but I do say we ought to be given that information.

Surely there are lots of things we can send which will be of help. Under this first contribution we have given a number of lorries. We have given under this first contribution (and in other ways sent to Germany, not for U.N.R.R.A.) a number of lorries. I believe we could give a lot more. They need not be new lorries. The people in those countries are crying out for vehicles to help with their internal distribution. It does not matter whether the lorry has got a bent mudguard, a scratch on it or anything of that sort. Send them some of the lorries that have, maybe, only a few months or years further service in them. It is now that they are wanted and it is now that we should send them. We ought to get them out of the dumps that: we see about the country and send them to places where they will be of use. We can do that as part of our contribution to U.N.R.R.A.

Similarly, we can help considerably with materials for shelter. We were turning out a large number of things like Nissen huts at one period of the war and we could go on with that kind of production. We can give those things which would be most valuable in heavily "blitzed" towns. There are many other surplus stores. I agree with the noble Earl who spoke that we should go through them and see what can be given. I should imagine that 75,000 blankets is not really too many to keep in this country. A man who is demobilized from the Forces does not bring his blanket with him and de- mobilized men are swelling the civil population. I should think that 75,000 was not too many to keep in this country. I suggest we should go through these lists of surplus stores, get rid of the people who are looking after them, and put the stores to some good use at the earliest possible moment.

While I am on this question of information, perhaps I might follow up what my noble friend said from this Bench earlier this afternoon. It seems to me quite reasonable that we should have more information from our own zone. I believe that we could get it from the American zone too, because all through the war we have had a complete exchange of information with the United States. Whether they would allow us to publish it is a matter for them, but normally they would. In our own zone I know that the information exists. In July last, when I was Minister of Food, I was in our own zone, and I went over a very good operations room where the matter was dealt with very well. You could see in that room how much coal was being produced, how many new pits had been opened, how much food there was of every sort, and so on. By spending half an hour walking round that room at Field-Marshal Montgomery's Civil Affairs Headquarters, it was, possible to see the position at a glance. The information is available, and there seems to be no reason now to withhold it. We ought to get out of this habit which we have got into during the last six years. It is quite true that during the last six years there was a tremendous amount of information which we could not possibly give away; but once the habit of thinking "We had better not give that information away" becomes ingrained in Government offices, it requires Ministers to take charge and to point out that the war is over. We ought now to be able to give that information, and to insist on it being given. It cannot do any harm whatever for us to have that information.

Coming now to the second point on which I want to touch, it deals more directly with food. We are the last country in the world who ought to be asked to send, or ought to consider sending, food elsewhere, because we are the greatest food-importing country in the whole world. We have to get that into our heads. We can send industrial goods and be of great help in that way. I do not think, however, that I can be accused of any lack of sympathy with people in the liberated countries, because during the whole of the time when others, who shall be nameless, were off their rations in various items, we were still rationed for them here. We were still keeping our rations at a moderate level, and we thus accumulated quite considerable reserves. We suggested that others might have those reserves too. I am revealing no secret, however, when I say that from D Day until May last, if we had not had the food in our reserves in this country almost no food would have gone to Norway, Holland, Belgium and France. We had the food here; we had kept it against that clay when we knew that they would need it. A great part of the million and a half tons of which the noble Lord, Lord Pethick-Lawrence, spoke to-clay went during the time before I gave up the Ministry of Food.

When noble Lords now say "Why do not you give from your reserves?" it must be borne in mind that these are not all reserves in a cupboard. A greater part of them in each commodity is moving down the pipe-line from the warehouse at the docks through the chain of distribution to the shops in each town and village in this country. Although the amount varies in different commodities, you have to have in some cases two months' flow going through the pipe-line, so that you will be able on the due date to honour the rations. One thing which I hope that my successors at the Ministry of Food will always keep before them—and I believe they will—is that the ration has to be honoured. To reduce it is another matter, letting the country know why; but you must always honour the ration, and therefore you must keep these sufficient reserves in your pipe-line to enable you to retain the confidence of the people of this country.

Not only did we send these supplies of which I have spoken, but I think that the Minister of Food and Sir Jack Drummond in particular are to be given great credit for the steps taken to feed the people of Holland, where we had food prepared for those who were in a semi-starving condition in the district round The Hague, and got it over there and kept large numbers of them from dying. We just rescued them in time. The main purpose of the visit of the Minister of Production and myself to Washington last Easter was to see whether we could not make more food available to Europe from the food-exporting countries. At that time both the United States and Canada came down to our level of consumption of sugar and oils and fats, so as to make some available for these countries.

The noble Marquess, Lord Reading, wanted a completely different organization. Believe me, the Combined Food Board has done a very good job of work during the war. It has its Commodity Committees dealing with individual commodities. We brought in, just before I left the Ministry of Food, a large number of additional countries on each of these Commodity Committees. It would be madness, in my view, to try to pull up the roots of all that organization, which has worked so well between the Americans, the Canadians and ourselves, with these other countries now added, and start some brand new organization to replace one which has gone through the tests and trials of the last five years.

There would be no question about sending ample food to these countries now that shipping is in much more plentiful supply if there were not grave shortages of food throughout the world. There is an acute shortage of meat, and there is a fairly acute shortage of oils and fats. We were lucky to find some in the Dutch East Indies after VJ Day, which I was delighted fell into the lap of my successor as a little bonne bouche that we had not been able to count on. There has been a grave shortage of sugar. There is a very grave shortage of rice in the world. "Burma used to produce about 6,000,000 tons of rice a year, but the estimate this year is, I believe, about 3,000,000 tons, so that the exportable surplus of rice, some of which will be needed in India this year, and a. lot of which will be wanted in Malaya, is not forthcoming. I am told that so well did the supply arrangements work in regard to wheat from Canada and the United States to Europe—I had something to do with the arrangements when I was over there last Easter, both in Washington and by going to Montreal to see the Canadian side myself—that now a great deal of the extra wheat that was in those countries has come to Europe, and the wheat position is not the happy one that it was when I was in a position of responsibility and could say that it gave me no concern. I believe that now it is causing quite considerable concern.

I have always wondered whether these reports that we get from these zones in Germany are riot, sometimes, somewhat exaggerated. I, myself, was out there in July. I did not go to the same part of the country as that which the right reverend Prelate visited, but I travelled in the Ruhr area. I visited the immortal marshalling yard, Dortmund, Bochum, Essen, Dũsseldorf, Cologne and Baden, and I was at great pains to look at the people I saw and to make inquiries of those of our people with whom I came in contact. Never have I seen people better clothed than were the Germans. The fact is, of course, that during the war the Germans managed to get clothes from pretty well every other country on the Continent of Europe. They were certainly better clothed than our people in this country. Furthermore, I never saw any sign of malnutrition. I certainly saw two children with what could be termed thin legs, but they were not ricketty. The others looked just as well as our children in this country, and we took a pride at the Ministry of Food in the fact that our children looked so well on the extra rations which we gave them. But, as I say, these German children looked just as well as ours, and they were surprisingly clean. Like the right reverend Prelate, I certainly found it a matter of mystery where most of them live. They live in cellars or in old air-raid shelters under masses of fallen brickwork. But how they keep as clean as they do, with the water supplies gone, I do not know. Certainly their condition as regards cleanliness is a credit to them. Never in their physical condition did I see any sign of there having previously been any lack of food among those people.

As well as visiting the towns, we—the then Minister of Agriculture was with me —looked round the fields. I have never seen a more promising-looking harvest than I saw then. As your Lordships will remember, through our wisdom—and we got the Americans to agree to it—a large number of German prisoners of war were released to go back to their farms, and I saw them going back on lorries. There was, so far as I could see, no reason why the harvest should not have been garnered in Germany. I do not believe that there is an immediate food problem in Germany. I believe that we may have a problem to face next May. But they have got their harvest in. In any country, or, to speak particularly, in this country, with regard to your wheat supplies and other things, the months that give you concern are the months just before the harvest is got in. Those are the months to watch.

I do not believe that there is this urgency with regard to food supplies in Germany that so many people talk about. I would like to know what is happening to the produce from the Danube Basin. Except, perhaps, for the Valley of the Mississippi and the Missouri, the Danube Basin is the most fertile food producing area in the world. If, then, over 8,000,000 people—or whatever number it is—are being pushed out of the area that was supplied from the Danube Basin, we ought to get some food for these people from the area that previously fed them. There should be no doubt about that. I know the difficulties that confront the Government, but they must, I think, go on pressing for that, and endeavour to see if we cannot get some of the produce from that area which, after all, used to feed the greater part of Germany as well as feed these people who are being pushed out of Czechoslovakia and Poland at this time.

It is unfortunate, but perhaps inevitable, that large farming experiments altering the organization of the farms and the farming industry happen to be going on at this time, because that is, obviously, going to disorganize the sequence of cultivation, and, probably, for a year or two at any rate, will mean less production than before. So it is not to this country that we should look for food to go either to Germany or to any parts of liberated Europe. It is to the Danube Basin and to the food-exporting countries of the world that we should look. It was a sad thing (I am glad that the conditions which led to it have now been partially overcome) that in these days of shortage corn should have been used to work factories and engines in the Argentine owing to the fact that for political reasons oil could not go there. But still, in parts of America far too much human food, such as wheat, is being fed to hogs and other animals. That is a place to which we ought to go for wheat for both the liberated areas and the German people.

I have no doubt in my own mind as to the order of priority in which I would put the people in the world as regards this problem. I would put the people of these islands first. Without our incomparable effort, after all, Europe would not be liberated to-day. Secondly, I would put the people for whom we have got special responsibility, like the people in Malaya, the people in Ceylon—where they have worked so hard to produce tea, rubber and copra for us—the people in Mauritius, and other places. Thirdly, I would put the Allies. Fourth, and at the bottom of the list, I would put the German people. I remember that at the end of the last war appeals were made on the basis that the youth of Germany were suffering from malnutrition and rickets and that we ought to do something to save them from the dreadful conditions under which they had to live. Good gracious me ! Those were the people who became Hitler's S.S. men twenty-five years later. Do not let us run into that kind of stupidity again this time.

6.9 p.m.


My Lords, reluctant as I am to criticize adversely anything said by the most reverend Primate and by the right reverend prelate the Bishop of Chichester—it is easier to say what I have got to say since they are not now in their seats—I feel impelled to comment on some of the points which they raised. I was very glad to note that Lord Llewellin mentioned Norway three times and that Lord Barnby referred to Poland. Having regard to my own great knowledge of the Norwegian people, knowledge extending over thirty years, I feel that it is my duty to remind your Lordships, in a few words, of what the President of the League of Nations —Lord Templewood has already referred to him—Professor Nansen, as we call him, Fridtjof Nansen to give him his right name, did for the German children and of how they repaid Norway's kindness. After the first great World War, Nansen persuaded his countrymen to receive thousands of German children—I believe that 15,000 is the number—to clothe, feed and foster and to bring them up in their midst. In the summer of that sunlit land I have seen these children swimming in the fiords, sailing on the lakes, being given milk in the middle of the forenoon in accordance with the Norwegian scheme of educating their children, and being taught the language and the localities. Surely, when these people returned to Norway it should have been with feelings of gratitude and affection. They were even given pocket-money and beautiful clothing.

These are the people who, on April 9, the clay that Norway was invaded, came with their bombers, their armoured cars and their tanks in the van of the invaders and spat death and bloody wounds on the very people who had nurtured them and who had brought them up to be such fine S.S. men. I happened to be in Norway during the invasion and I saw a sight I shall never forget. One realized that the Germans had local knowledge and I saw mountain homes and valley homes set on fire. I saw fathers, grandfathers and great grandfathers bringing out little Norwegian children, babes in arms, who stared wide-eyed with terror and amazement at these Germans whom they been told about and who had been brought up in that sun-kissed land. That is the way they repaid the kindness of a country which had not been at war for at least a hundred years. These youngsters forgot the hardships and humiliation of post-war Germany after 1918; when they returned surely it should not have been as murderers. No wonder the Norwegians are bitter and no wonder the American-Norwegians are so ready to aid the people who suffered so much under German aggression. Recently I spent more than six weeks in Norway and I heard horrible tales of the sufferings inflicted on the people and of the hardships they had to bear through those who came to "protect" them against the English. In my own family, I have got a Norwegian staying with me now and he asked that his nephew might stay a little longer so that he could gain from the food that we are providing.

The accounts we have from these people make us think back to 1918, to the Young Plan and to the Dawes Plan and some of our own plans which gave £2,000,000,000 to Germany to help them rebuild their country. You all know what they spent it on. I do not think we should make the dreadful psychological blunder of bringing over to this country 10,000 German children and treating them as the Norwegians treated their fathers. We are asking Europe, in fact we are asking the whole world, to laugh at us. If we must have children over here, why not have the children of Norway, of Poland and of Czechoslovakia? After all, charity begins at home; and if we cannot have our Christmas parties in our own homes for our own children, I think the nearest and. the dearest are those of the Allies.

I will conclude by saying that I know that every one of the noble Lords in this House thinks, as His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury arid the Bishop of Chichester think, that the greatness of a nation is measured by the magnitude of its compassion. But let us be compasionate, to those who are our nearest and dearest. Why all this sloppy sentiment? Suppose you selected an intelligent youngster in this country going up to enter the Services and a German, a Frenchman, an American and a Russian, and tried to find out their repercussions when they went into a field and found a frog. The result would be something like this. The Englishman would make a pet of it; the Frenchman would want to cook it; the German would want to kill it; the American would say '' The deuce, does it matter?"; and the Russian would look at its long fingers and say "I wonder if I can teach it to play the piano." We must not overlook the psychology of the Germans. Why 'should two consecutive wars change the German children's mentality? I hope noble Lords opposite and on the Government side will do their best to prevent this until we have settled some of the graver issues we are facing.

6.7 p.m.


My Lords, I intend to detain you for a very few minutes only—I might almost say seconds —to say that if the sympathies and the sentiments expressed to-day are to be translated into action, they require a great deal more putting into a form, composed of figures and facts, that will have the effect of stopping speculation about what has got to be mended in Europe and will show what has got to be done. I want it to be shown as a mathematical formula—or shall we call it a balance sheet?—and this balance sheet should be open to general inspection. First of all, there is the debit side; that can be assessed in calories. The most reverend Primate who opened the debate has told you that millions of people in Europe are living on a minus quantity of 500 calories per day, too little to support existence. By an easy addition sum this can be added up to show how many calories Europe is short of per week and per month.

I should like to ask His Majesty's Government if they know what this debit side is at the moment, and if they have got any scheme visualized to reduce the deficit and to reach the necessary minimum of 2,000 calories per person per day to keep up the normal state of health. If there is no scheme it simply means that vast mortality and famine are being left to chance. But it is unthinkable. The matter must be regulated by a proper balance sheet and the credit side of such a balance sheet should show all possibilities that exist for making up the deficit from all possible sources.

It has been said to-day by several of your Lordships, and I believe that it is generally acknowledged, that this country cannot spare any more from its stocks except small amounts which might be raised by a voluntary surrender of coupons at Christmas or other occasions. When you know the debit, and when you know the total weekly number of calories required, definite requests for given amounts can be made to the food-exporting countries which are, after all, the only possible source at the moment. If those requests are favourably received, the whole matter can be treated and regulated as a proper business proposition, and the results issued weekly or monthly, as was requested by several noble Lords today. Therefore, I beg His Majesty's Government to issue such a review of Europe's food problem in some general attainable form without delay and, when that has been done, to take definite steps to cover the deficit before it is too late.

6.21 p.m.


My Lords, this long, interesting and important discussion has covered a very wide area, whether it be regarded geographically, or in relation to the range of subjects. Almost any one of the main subjects touched upon in today's debate, had it related to affairs in this country, would, itself, have been the sole subject of the debate. As it is, a number of subjects have been touched upon and I can only pretend to deal summarily with a few. Those noble Lords to whose contributions I do not specifically refer may rest assured that what they have said to-day will be brought to the attention of the Minister primarily responsible. My noble friend the Secretary of State for India gave an undertaking to the noble Lord, Lord Barnby, that I would say a few words with regard to his observations on Poland and, although the noble Lord is not at the moment in his place, I will, nevertheless, fulfil the undertaking given by the noble Lord, Lord Pethick-Lawrence.

Steady progress has been made since the end of the war in Europe with the restoration of communications between Poland and this country, although it will be some time before normal freedom of movement recovers. Despite difficulties, the ports of Danzig and Gdynia have been reopened to vessels up to 20 feet draught, and vessels carrying U.N.R.R.A supplies are now making regular voyages from this country. One or two Polish vessels are also sailing. His Majesty's Government are doing what they can to collaborate with U.N.R.R.A. to provide the Poles with equipment in order to permit them to improve their harbour facilities as quickly as may he, and the Royal Air Force Transport Command runs a regular air service to Warsaw for officials and officially-sponsored passengers. The service is run, at present, at the frequency of two flights in each direction weekly, but it is hoped that with the improvement of aircraft facilities at Warsaw it may shortly be possible to institute a daily service. Postal and telegraph services between this country and Poland were reopened some months ago.

The postal service has been slow and unreliable, but it should improve now that normal conditions are, more or less, restored. A parcel-post service has also been opened. The telegraph service has been inadequate owing to the serious shortage of telecommunication equipment in Poland, but His Majesty's Government are assisting the Poles to overcome this shortage by providing equipment which will enable a direct wireless link to be operated between Poland and this country. His Majesty's Government will do all in their power to encourage closer communication with Poland, and they are facilitating, as far as existing resources permit, the interchange of visitors and the visits of journalists, cultural workers, and the like, as suggested by the noble Lord in his observations earlier this afternoon.

But the restoration of normal trading relations with Poland has not yet proved possible. Before this can be done, it will be necessary for the Polish authorities to fix a realistic exchange rate for the zloty in relation to sterling. Until that is done, no agreement can be made for commercial remittances between the two countries, nor can any payments agreement be concluded regularizing financial arrangements. It is also regarded by His Majesty's Government as essential that an early settlement should be reached on the whole financial situation arising out of the advances made by His Majesty's Government to the late Polish Government in London. They are at present engaged in discussions with representatives of the Polish Provisional Government with a view to reaching a provisional settlement on the whole question of the outstanding obligations of the Polish State.


Will that include British properties situated in Poland?


It will relate to the whole problem of the outstanding obligations of the Polish State, and it is hoped that a satisfactory solution will, in due course, open the way for a restoration of normal commercial exchange with Poland. It is unlikely, however, that. His Majesty's Government will be able, for some time, to offer extended credits to Poland and, in present circumstances, there are few commodities of which Poland has a surplus available for export.

I hope that I may be able, by a footnote to the speech made by my noble friend the Secretary of State for India, to relieve some of the anxiety felt by various noble Lords who spoke in the course of to-day's debate on the question of information, on which great emphasis was laid. As the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, said, he raised this question in your Lordships' House in October and my noble friend the Secretary of State for Air, on that occasion, stated that there were so many political, diplomatic and international difficulties which affected—and, to a certain extent, conditioned—the production of statistical returns that it would be a mistake to give any undertaking at that time to publish figures. But I am now in a position to say—and I hope it will, as far as it goes, satisfy noble Lords—that the Control Office will shortly be issuing a White Paper on developments in the British zone of Ger- many and Austria since the surrender. When that White Paper is forthcoming it will be a matter for consideration whether it can be repeated at regular intervals and whet her it affords the information which it is generally felt should be furnished.

The noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, spoke on the question of speed and in that connexion referred, in particular, to the danger and risk of disease. It would be idle for me to deny that there are grave risks of the spread of epidemics in Europe this winter, particularly in Germany, and His Majesty's Government have, of course, had to visualize a situation in which, as ever, epidemics know no frontiers. The high-risk areas are Berlin, the Ruhr, Hamburg and other large cities which have been most devastated. The British Control authorities appreciate the danger, and have been working since the summer to minimize it. Drugs, for instance, have to a considerable extent been imported into the British zone. I am in the fortunate position of being able to say that the main notifiable diseases, such as typhus and plague, have been kept well under control since this war, largely as the result of the development of new insecticides, such as D.D.T.

The main epidemic risk now appears, as one noble Lord said, to be influenza and influenza, if it once gets a hold, is almost impossible to control. A supply of anti-influenza vaccines has, I believe, been brought into existence. In the winter of 1919 influenza claimed several million victims in Europe alone, but there is no special reason to expect the peculiarly virulent type of influenza which broke out in 1919. Everything possible has been done to improve conditions in Germany by the organization of medical and Musing services, by the improvement of water supplies and other public services of that kind. The main danger arises, of course, from the lack of fuel, food and housing. With the best will in the world, it will not be possible to provide sufficient food, warmth and shelter to eliminate the grave risks of disease. I can, however, on behalf of His Majesty's Government, give full assurances that all possible precautions are being taken.

On the question of food, to which several noble Lords have referred, which of course is in the forefront of all the problems and anxieties in connexion with this matter, the noble Lord opposite, Lord Llewellin, has given your Lordships information—which, if I may, I adopt in very large degree—on the facts and the considerations underlying the present situation. I do not think your Lordships would desire that I should traverse again ground so fully traversed by him. I accept what he said in that particular. There are, however, two observations in regard to food which I should wish to make. Both arise out of observations from the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chichester. He made the bold statement that whilst there were shortages of many commodities there was no world shortage of wheat. I could not allow that statement to pass without correction, because the plain fact is that the situation as to wheat is one of the most serious preoccupations of those who have to deal with the food problem. In that connexion I might perhaps say that the British Government have recently furnished one month's import requirements of wheat to the British zone in Germany. They have on foot the procurement of a further six weeks' supply, and hope to provide a stock in Germany to act as a buffer if supplies should not come through as regularly as designed.

The other observation of the right reverend Prelate to which I would refer was with regard to Christmas rations. He almost made the suggestion—indeed, I am not sure he did not-make it in terms —that some of the rations might be reduced so far as the Armed Forces were concerned. Now the Armed Forces, both at home and abroad, have already suffered reductions in their accustomed rations. They have accepted those reductions in good heart. No difficulty or complaint has arisen out of that, but it is my belief that the condition of their accepting the reductions in good heart was that they should feel that what may be saved goes to their own people, their families, their fellow-citizens and friends at home, or to the liberated territories. It could scarcely be expected, either as regards reductions or cancellation of something extra at Christmas, that they would accept them in the same good tone if they felt it was merely to ameliorate conditions in Germany. I say to the right reverend Prelate that so far as Christmas fare is concerned, it is, in terms of food, a completely negligible matter.

The right reverend Prelate also referred to the question of clothing in Germany. The clothing position, as was indeed rather indicated by the noble Lord opposite, is much less acute than the food position, and there is no urgent need so far as clothing is concerned. In comparison indeed with the liberated territories, reserves of clothing in private hands in Germany must be considered adequate; and when any appreciable quantities can be made available from current production, every effort will be made to see that they are distributed in an equitable way among the population, those outside this country first to be served being the liberated countries, and Germany coming lowest in the list of priorities.

Several noble Lords have referred to the question of U.N.R.R.A., and in particular the noble Lord, Lord Llewellin. Something was said with regard to U.N.R.R.A. by my noble friend the Secretary of State for India this afternoon, but I am in a position to add something to what was said, especially in reply to the very specific inquiry made upon certain points by the noble Lord, Lord Llewellin, and other noble Lords who preceded him. Let me say in the first place that the U.N.R.R.A. programme of shipments to the countries for which it is responsible is approved by a Committee of U.N.R.R.A. of which the maid contributing countries are members, including the United Kingdom. The amounts which such shipments cost are of course available, and the sources of supply are known to His Majesty's Government as a member of that Committee. U.N.R.R.A. itself issues figures as to its shipments and the destinations to which they go. I shall be able to give the noble Lord further information in a moment.

The financial operations of U.N.R.R.A. are also scrutinized by a Committee of Financial Control on which equally His Majesty's Government are represented. U.N.R.R.A., of course—and I do not know if all noble Lords realize this; the noble Lord opposite me does—will not operate in Germany except so far as displaced persons are concerned, although an invitation has recently been issued, to it to extend its activities in a certain degree in Austria. The publication of U.N.R.R.A. figures is a matter for U.N..R.R.A. and will not cover all the subjects in Germany on which the most reverend Primate wanted reports. I can promise to make available figures of what the United Kingdom has contributed to U.N.R.R.A. I will give some before I sit down, Sixty million pounds worth of supplies will have been spent by U.N.R.R.A. in the United Kingdom by the end of this current year, mainly on items such as lorries, locomotives, transport equipment, surplus military stores, textiles and wool. A further £20,000,000 of our first contribution will be spent by the end of the financial year on freight, services and the like. A further £15,000,000 on supplies out of our second contribution will also have been spent by the end of the financial year.

Those are rather generalized statements, but I think they give the noble Lord some of the information which he sought, to which I will now seek to add. Of the £80,000,000 spent out: of the United Kingdom's contribution £60,000,000 is for supplies, £9,500,000 for shipping, £9,500,000 for relief services and £1,000,000 for administrative expenses. Of the £60,000,000 to which commitment has been taken by the end of this year, some £30,000,000 had been actually spent by the 31st October, and spent approximately thus:£10,500,000 on shipments which have gone from the United Kingdom, £11,000,000 approximately, on surplus stores sent to the Balkans, which U.N.R.R.A. took over from us, £5,500,000 on direct cash purchases and expenditure by U.N.R.R.A., and £4,000,000 on shipping, Army surpluses, Middle East refugee camps and the like. The items on which most of our contribution has gone are textiles, clothing, wool, transport and communications equipment, footwear and a number of other articles of a variety such as that.

I hope the noble Lord will feel that I have at least done my best to furnish him with information on the points upon which he was seeking it. Without going into a large number of matters, some of them of smaller rather than greater detail, though I would not underrate their importance, I think I have possibly said sufficient this evening to indicate to your Lordships that, notwithstanding what was said by my noble friend Lord Russell, the Govern- ment are not attacking this matter in a niggardly or grudging way. They are fully conscious of the difficulty, complexity and vital importance of the problems with which they are confronted and are endeavouring day by day to meet those problems as they arise and also to act in anticipation with a reasoned foresight.


My Lords, the most reverend Primate has asked me to explain that he has unfortunately been obliged to go to an important engagement of many weeks' standing. He has asked me to beg leave, on his behalf, to withdraw the Motion that stood in his name.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.