HC Deb 05 May 1955 vol 540 cc171-3W
Mr. Page

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether he will now make a statement in regard to the further negotiations with the United States authorities for a programme of imports of surplus commodities under the United States Mutual Security Act and Public Law 480; and to what extent the 50 per cent. shipping requirement will apply to such transactions.

Sir E. Boyle

Agreement has now been reached on a programme under the Mutual Security Act amounting to $73. 9 million to be financed from the United States appropriations for 1954–55.

The following is the composition of the programme:

$ million
Cotton 25
Maize 20
Oils and fats 11
Fruit 14.9
Freight 3

The fruit element in this programme is made up as follows:

$ million
Fresh citrus fruit 6
(of which not more than $0.5 million will be for the purchase of grapefruit)
Apples 1.4
Prunes and other dried tree fruit 4.5
Canned pears 2.5
Canned fruit Cocktail 0.5

There will be no purchases of canned grapefruit, grapefruit juice or single-strength orange juice. The import of oranges will be confined to the period between now and the 31st October; and of lemons and grapefruit between now and the 30th September. Import licences for the apples and prunes were issued in January last in anticipation of their inclusion in this programme.

The sterling proceeds of this programme will be used mainly to give aid to the U.K. defence effort, but an amount not exceeding $13.7 million will be used by the United States to purchase military equipment in the United Kingdom for use in giving aid to third countries.

Negotiations are in progress about an arrangement under which the Government would agree to import $15 million of United States tobacco under Public Law 480 the proceeds of which would be appropriated to the United Kingdom defence budget. The United Kingdom Government for their part would undertake to provide houses for United States Service personnel in this country at an equivalent cost. These houses would be let to the United States authorities at a nominal rent for so long as they are required but would remain the property of the United Kingdom Government. This would be a special measure to help to meet the United States military needs. The tobacco would help to build up the working stocks of our manufacturers to a more satisfactory level.

As regards the last part of the Question, the United Kingdom Government remain strongly opposed to all forms of flag discrimination and have been at pains to make their position on this clear to the United States Government. They have, however, recognised that the requirement that 50 per cent. of any goods imported from the United States which represent aid must be moved in United States ships is one of the conditions on which aid can be granted under United States law.

The United Kingdom can accept this requirement only where the transaction in question contains an element of aid and is one in which the United Kingdom has an interest. They have declined certain further commodities offered to the United Kingdom under Public Law 480 on the condition that the sterling proceeds would be expended by the United States on purposes other than the provision of aid to the United Kingdom or to other countries.