HL Deb 02 March 1955 vol 191 cc654-5

2.43 p.m.


My Lords, with the leave of the House, I should like to make a statement about the contribution from Her Majesty's Government following the floods in Australia. The reports which have now been received show that the floods in New South Wales are the worst in the history of Australia. The deep sympathy which everyone in this country feels for the victims of this disaster was voiced by the Prime Minister in another place yesterday. Her Majesty's Government are sure that it would be the wish of everyone in this country that our sympathy should be expressed in a practical form. We all remember the generous help which the Government and people of Australia gave us in our disasters in recent years. Her Majesty's Government have informed the Australian Government that it is their desire to contribute a sum of £250,000 towards the flood relief in New South Wales.

We are asking the Australian authorities what is the most effective way in which this sum should be made available. It may be that there is an urgent need for special medical supplies or other commodities not immediately available in sufficient quantities in Australia. If that should be so, the United Kingdom Government will do their best to help with such supplies. We shall thus be able to make our contribution in whatever way is most helpful to New South Wales.


My Lords, it is fitting that I should identify those noble Lords who sit on this side of the House completely and absolutely with what the noble Viscount has said. We regard this misfortune as we should regard a misfortune to a member of our own family, and we are delighted that Her Majesty's Government have taken this very right course. This contribution does not, of course, preclude subscription to private funds, one of which is, I believe, being arranged at the present time. I feel most sincerely that the people of this country, remembering all that Australia has done for them in their hour of peril, ought now to do everything they can to show that we feel absolutely at one with the Australian people in their present trouble.


My Lords, all sections of your Lordships' House will wish to join in this expression of the very sincere sympathy which your Lordships feel on the occasion of this calamity which has befallen the people of New South Wales. All noble Lords, and public opinion in this country generally, will most cordially approve the grant of financial assistance which it is now proposed should be made by Her Majesty's Government in the name of the nation.