HC Deb 25 October 1939 vol 352 cc1411-2W
Mr. Garro Jones

asked the Minister of Economic Warfare whether he will consider the possibility of making to the House a statement on the progress and effectiveness of the blockade of Germany which will have regard to all her coasts and frontiers and to neutral avenues of entry?

Mr. Cross

The Prime Minister in his weekly statement to the House on 26th September gave a general account of the work performed by my Department. From the very outbreak of war a system of contraband control has been in full operation with contraband control bases at Weymouth, Kirkwall, and the Downs in the United Kingdom, and also at Gibraltar and Haifa. In the first six weeks of the war the contraband control intercepted and detained 338,000 tons of goods, in respect of which there was evidence that they were suspected contraband destined for Germany. This total included:

76,500 tons of petroleum products,

65,000 tons of iron ore,

38,500 tons of manganese ore,

24,500 tons of phosphates,

21,500 tons of aluminium

16,500 tons of haematite ore,

13,000 tons of copra, and

10,300 tons of oilseeds.

Discussions have recently been opened with a number of neutral Governments on questions arising out of the contraband control and delegations from Iceland, Sweden, Holland and Belgium are at present in London. Conversations with other Governments are being conducted through the diplomatic channel. These discussions are proceeding in a friendly spirit and good progress is being made.

In general the position is that Germany is now effectively cut off from nearly all her overseas sources of supply. At the same time it remains necessary to examine all cargoes with the greatest care and, while His Majesty's Government naturally desire to take full account of the bona fide trading needs of neutral countries, they are determined to exercise their belligerent rights to the full to intercept all cargoes of contraband suspected of having ultimate enemy destination.