Oral Answers to Questions — Greece (Food Supplies).

– in the House of Commons on 19th May 1942.

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Photo of Mr Thomas Harvey Mr Thomas Harvey , Combined English Universities

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Economic Warfare whether he will give the latest available information as to the progress of arrangements for controlled food relief in Greece; and whether it has yet been possible to extend the benefit of this relief to the Greek islands where famine conditions have been most serious?

Photo of Mr Dingle Foot Mr Dingle Foot , Dundee

The scheme for food relief in Greece, to be administered by the Swedish Red Cross, of which I informed the House on 21st April, was put forward in the middle of March, and was at once accepted by His Majesty's Governments in the United Kingdom and Canada, and by the Government of the United States. Presumably it was laid before the Axis Powers at the same time. But it was not until 18th April that His Majesty's Government was informed of the terms of the Italian reply, while the German reply was not received until 30th April.

As I informed the House in the answer to which I have referred, the British, Canadian and United States Governments declared their willingness to authorise monthly shipments of 15,000 tons of wheat or flour from Canada to Greece, under the Swedish scheme. This scheme provides for conditions governing the disposal of these imports and of Greek native produce in the interests of the Greek people, and that the Swedish representatives should receive the necessary facilities in this connection from the occupying Powers. Unfortunately the German and Italian replies as they now stand cannot be regarded as a satisfactory acceptance of the terms of the proposal, and it has therefore been necessary to ask for further elucidation. As regards the last part of the Question, I am sorry to say that the German reply in its present form excludes the islands, where famine has been particularly acute, from any participation in the proposed relief. To this His Majesty's Government have of course replied by urging that the islands should be included. Meanwhile all the preparations are being made so that no time may be lost in giving effect to this scheme as soon as the necessary assurances, free from all ambiguity, have been received.

I would remind the House once more that the whole of the wheat is being offered as a free gift from Allied resources and that its transmission would never have been necessary if the enemy had not evaded his obligations as the occupying authority and if he had not also stolen the food belonging to the Greek people.

Photo of Sir William Davison Sir William Davison , Kensington South

On a point of Order. Cannot these long statements be circulated or made after Questions?

Photo of Mr Thomas Harvey Mr Thomas Harvey , Combined English Universities

Has not the delay been entirely due to the Axis Powers, and are not the Government doing their utmost to see that supplies are expedited?