Gold Salvaging (Labour).

Oral Answers to Questions — National Finance. – in the House of Commons on 12th March 1942.

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Photo of Mr Alfred Edwards Mr Alfred Edwards , Middlesbrough East

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that £30,000 worth of British labour has recently been used in salvaging gold alleged to be worth £2,000,000, but which is useless for the war effort; and whether he will take steps to prohibit the use of labour and materials on any kind of gold production operations, seeing that the Allies already have larger stocks than can be usefully utilised?

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

I am aware of the salvage of gold to which the hon. Member refers. It is certainly not useless for the war effort, and I regard this salvage operation as having rendered a valuable service. We have to pay for those essential imports which are not covered by Lend-Lease or the generous financial arrangement made by the Government of Canada. For this purpose exports have to be maintained, and gold is from many points of view a very advantageous export.

Photo of Mr Alfred Edwards Mr Alfred Edwards , Middlesbrough East

Is the Minister seriously telling this House that shipping space is being used to-day to transport gold across the seas to pay debts to our Dominions, and if that is not the case would not this gold have been as secure in its safe deposit at the bottom of the sea as it is upon land in New Zealand? May I have an answer to the first part of my Question, with reference to gold being transported across the sea?

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

The hon. Member ought to put that Question down.

Photo of Mr Richard Stokes Mr Richard Stokes , Ipswich

Is the Chancellor of the Exchequer aware that more than 500,000 British subjects are engaged in the perfectly useless pursuit of digging gold, and that even America is now awaking to the uselessness of this business?

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

I am aware of my hon. Friend's views on this matter.

Photo of Mr Alfred Edwards Mr Alfred Edwards , Middlesbrough East

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise this matter on another occasion.