HC Deb 21 October 1915 vol 74 cc2016-7W

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether facilities have been and are being given by the Foreign Office for the free passage from Germany to neutral countries of drugs and other articles manufactured in Germany and, if so, whether he can state the approximate value of such goods ordered and delivered since 1st March, 1915, and further, under what Order in Council or document such facilities have been granted?


To describe the action of His Majesty's Government in these cases as a grant of facilities is to use a form of words which may give rise to misapprehension. There is no question of any action taken under an Order in Council or in virtue of any legislative enactment. What His Majesty's Government do is to give directions to His Majesty's ships that particular consignments are not to be captured and brought in for adjudication in a Prize Court. As regards goods ordered and delivered since 1st March, 1915, such action has only been taken (1) in the case of a few consignments of certain drugs unprocurable except from enemy territory or having no chemical equivalents procurable outside enemy territory, such as salvarsan and novocain; (2) in the case of certain natural products,e.g., sugar beet seed urgently required by important industries in other countries and unprocurable except from enemy territory; and (3) in the case of machine knitting needles, beet sugar slicing knives, scientific or technical publications required by universities or educational establishments in a neutral country, and a few articles, such as a stained glass window, required by religious establishments to complete orders placed a long time ago with an enemy firm. It is difficult to form an estimate of the value of these articles, but I believe it would be certainly less than £300,000 altogether. It should be added that these consignments have been allowed to pass either in response to urgent representations by certain neutral Governments, based sometimes on undeniable humanitarian grounds, or to meet certain home demands.