HC Deb 30 November 1943 vol 395 cc239-40W
Mr. R. Taylor

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Economic Warfare whether he will make a statement regarding the smuggling in Spanish ships of contraband of war from South America to Spain and Portugal for transmission to enemy occupied countries in Europe; and what steps have been taken to stop this traffic?

Mr. Foot

Yes, Sir. During the past few months our Contraband Control officers have discovered a number of attempts to smuggle contraband on Spanish ships sailing from South America to Spain and Portugal. These have involved goods of small bulk but high value such as industrial diamonds, platinum and liver extract, which is used for the manufacture of special tonics supplied to shock troops, airmen and submarine crews. As regards the second part of the Question, the number of ships intercepted and brought in for search at a British control base has increased. If we have reason to believe that a passenger or seaman has been involved in smuggling or attempted smuggling, we take steps, through our system of passenger and crew control, to prevent him crossing the Atlantic again. It is clear that, as a general rule, the shipping companies and masters concerned are ignorant of these attempts to defeat the blockade. I must, however, remind those concerned that, if in any case there were evidence of their complicity, both the cargo and the ship would be liable to be seized and placed in prize.