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?
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.
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?