Oral Answers to Questions — Greece (Food Supplies)

– in the House of Commons on 20th October 1942.

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Photo of Sir Percy Hurd Sir Percy Hurd , Devizes

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Economic Warfare whether, in view of the conditions of malnutrition and starvation among the children of Greece, he will cause consultation to take place with the Governments of Canada and Australia to secure their co-operation in bringing relief, especially in regard to milk supplies?

Photo of Mr Dingle Foot Mr Dingle Foot , Dundee

As the House is aware, the 15,000 tons of wheat now being shipped to Greece each month are a free gift from the Canadian Government, who are, of course, consulted at every stage in connection with the present relief scheme. For geographical reasons, it has not been thought feasible to invite the co-operation of the Australian Government on similar lines. As regards milk supplies, I would refer my hon. Friend to the Answer which I gave on 29th September to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir T. Moore).

Photo of Sir Percy Hurd Sir Percy Hurd , Devizes

Does my hon. Friend realise that that is no answer to my Question? What I wish to know is whether, in view of the starving condition of these children in Greece, he will consult with Canada and the other milk-producing Dominions, to see whether they can help us to supply the need?

Photo of Mr Dingle Foot Mr Dingle Foot , Dundee

I have already said that we are in constant consultation with the Canadian Government on this question. It is not only a matter of supplying the need; it is a question of how much we can safely let in.

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

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Economic Warfare what requests for navicerts have been received for supplies of tinned or dried milk from Argentina or from North America for the benefit of the children and infants in Greece; and whether, in view of the urgency of the need, he will now give favourable consideration to the supply of such milk under appropriate control?

Photo of Mr Dingle Foot Mr Dingle Foot , Dundee

No such application has been received for shipment from Argentina. A proposal was recently made by a charitable organisation in Canada to ship approximately 30 tons of dried milk; but, for the reasons given in my Answer of 29th September, this consignment has not been loaded. As regards the last part of the Question, I have already informed the House that I cannot give any fresh undertakings as to the future, at least until the results of the present experiment are known.

Photo of Sir Percy Hurd Sir Percy Hurd , Devizes

What is the real difficulty about getting this milk into Greece?

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

Would my hon. Friend do his best to hasten the inquiries which are being made, as children are dying in Greece?

Photo of Mr Dingle Foot Mr Dingle Foot , Dundee

I pointed out in the answer to which I have referred that Greece was normally self-supporting in milk and dairy products, and that there would have been no acute shortage now if it were not for the requisitioning and other seizures by the occupying authorities.

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

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Economic Warfare; what expression of the views of the Greek Government with regard to the need for the supply of milk for infants and children in Greece has been under the consideration of his Department; and whether he has official information as to the acute need of large numbers of such children for even a minimum diet sufficient to preserve life and health?

Photo of Mr Dingle Foot Mr Dingle Foot , Dundee

His Majesty's Government are, of course, in frequent communication with the Greek Government with reference both to food supplies and other matters, but the House will not expect me to reveal the nature of such communications. As regards the second part of the Question, I have received no fresh information as to the condition of Greek children since my Answer on 29th September to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir T. Moore).

Photo of Sir Percy Hurd Sir Percy Hurd , Devizes

In the meantime, children are dying.

Photo of Mr Ian Hannah Mr Ian Hannah , Wolverhampton Bilston

Is there not a rather widespread feeling in the country that we are not doing the best we possibly could for the Greeks?

Photo of Mr Dingle Foot Mr Dingle Foot , Dundee

We made an entirely exceptional concession in favour of Greece; 15,000 tons of wheat a month are being shipped to Greece. That is something which is not being done for any other occupied territory.