HC Deb 21 October 1920 vol 133 cc1089-91W

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the total amount of British expenditure upon reconstruction and relief in nil parts of the world since the date of the Armistice?


Under Sub-head "B" of the Vote for Loans to Dominions and Allies, 1919–20, the sum of £12,500,000 was provided for relief and reconstruction in war devastated areas. From the Vote of Credit, 1918–19, and Sub-head "A" of the Vote for Loans to Dominions and Allies, 1919–20, sums amounting to £15,283,000 were advanced after the Armistice to the Belgian Government for relief and reconstruction, including a special reconstruction credit of £9,000,000. Part of the sums thus allocated which were undrawn on 31st March, 1920, were re-voted under Sub-head "B" of the Loans to Allies, etc., 1920–21. This Subhead also contains a provision of £10,000,000 for relief to Austria and Poland in fulfilment of the undertaking given by His Majesty's Government to provide the equivalent of half of any sums provided by the United States Government for urgent relief requirements up to a maximum of £10,000,000. Up to the present nearly halt of this sum has been expended under the supervision of the British Delegate on the International Relief Credits Committee which is sitting in Paris, and the programme to be covered by the balance of the grant is at Present under consideration.

Under the Vote for Export Credits, 1920–21, the sum of £2,000,000 was provided for advances to British exporters of the United Kingdom on goods shipped to certain countries in Europe and bordering on the Black Sea.

The Overseas Trade (Credit and Insurance) Act, 1920, authorises the Board of Trade to grant credits and undertake insurance for the purpose of re-establishing trade between the United King- dom and the countries concerned within the limit that the aggregate amount outstanding in respect of credits shall not at any time exceed the sum of £26,000,000.

In addition to these general schemes, His Majesty's Government have incurred expenditure upon relief in various parts of the world. For example, we have undertaken to share equally with the United States of America the cost of repatriating Czecho-Slovaks and other friendly troops from Siberia. The estimated expenditure on this service under Sub-heads "G" and "H" of the Ministry of Shipping Vote and Sub-head "F" of the Supplementary Estimate for Miscellaneaus War Services amounts to about £1,400,000. On the withdrawal of General Denikin to the Crimea large numbers of Russian refugees took refuge in Cyprus, Egypt, and Lemnos, etc. In order to save these refugees from starvation, considerable expenditure was incurred by His Majesty's Government, the sum of £400,000 being provided under Sub-head "C" of the Miscellaneous War Services Estimate. During the presence of British troops in Archangel and Murmansk food was imported for the civilian population which was entirely cut off from the outer world during the winter months. The sum of £2,190,000 was voted for this expenditure under the Miscellaneous War Services Supplementary Estimate, 1919–20. Heavy expenditure has been incurred on the maintenance of Assyrian and Armenian refugees who fled before the Turkish troops into occupied territory in Mesopotamia in August, 1918. This expenditure has been met from a Vote of Credit and Army Votes to a total (up to 30th September) of approximately £3,940,000. Similarly expenditure was incurred after the occupation of Syria and Palestine upon the relief of refugees and destitute persons (including Armenians concentrated at Port Said) to a total of about £575,000. Finally, His Majesty's Government have informed the League of Nations that they will ask Parliament for authority to contribute not more than £50,000 towards the first £250,000 immediately required by the League for combating typhus in Poland provided that four other nations are willing to subscribe an equal amount, and they will also propose to Parliament a reasonable contribution to the further £1,750,000 required by the League provided that other nations are willing to take the same course.

These various contributions may be summarised as follow:

1. Grants and Loans to Belgium for Relief and Reconstruction 15,283,000
2. First Relief Credit 12,500,000
3. Second Relief Credit 10,000,000
4. Repatriation of Czecho Slovak Troops from Siberia 1,400,000
5. Maintenance of Russian Refugees 400,000
6. Supply of foodstuffs for North Russia 2,190,000
7. Export Credits 2,000,000
8. Relief of Assyrian and Armenian Refugees in Mesopotamia 3,940,000
9. Relief of Refugees and destitute persons in Syria and Palestine 575,000
10. Grant to League of Nations for relief of typhus in Poland 50,000

It is very difficult to make a comprehensive statement of this kind absolutely complete, but the above may be taken as including all the most important items of relief expenditure.

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