asked the Minister of Economic Warfare whether he can make any statement regarding the possibility of facilitating the supply of foodstuffs to the starving people of our Ally, Greece; and whether, in view of the urgency of this matter, immediate steps to relieve the prevalent starvation can be taken?
As the House is aware, His Majesty's Government have always refused to allow foodstuffs to be shipped through the blockade and thus to relieve the enemy of his legal and moral responsibility for feeding the peoples whom he has enslaved. This general policy, which is also the policy of the United States Government, remains unchanged. Nevertheless, His Majesty's Government and the United States Government have viewed with increasing dismay the appalling conditions in Greece. Despite their undoubted ability to do so, the German Government have done practically nothing to meet the situation created by the pillage and extortion of their armies in the spring of 1941. They have shown themselves quite indifferent to the fate of the Greek population, no doubt because the industrial resources of Greece are too small to be of any value to the German war machine.
His Majesty's Government and the United States Government are accordingly prepared to authorise a single shipment of 8,000 tons of wheat to Greece, to be applied, under the auspices of the International Red Cross, in relief of the present emergency. While we shall do our utmost to expedite this shipment, I should warn the House that besides arranging for the supply of wheat it may take some little time to arrange shipping and the necessary safe conduct from the enemy. This is in addition to the permitted shipment from Turkey of foodstuffs of a type which Turkey does not import. His Majesty's Government and the United States Government nevertheless continue to maintain in the most categorical manner that it is incumbent upon the enemy to feed the countries occupied by him, and their general policy in this respect remains unaffected by the exception which it has been found necessary to make in the special circumstances now prevailing in Greece.
That, of course, depends upon what other resources are available, the facilities for distribution and so forth, but it is a contribution which we have thought it right to make in the exceptional circumstances of the moment.