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Food Supplies Conference

Volume 389: debated on Thursday 6 May 1943

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can make any statement about the agenda and objectives of the forthcoming food conference at Hot Springs?

The agenda of the Conference, which has been published, is rather long, and I am therefore circulating it in the OFFICIAL REPORT. The primary object of the Conference is to give the United Nations an opportunity to exchange information and views on longer term problems concerning the production and consumption of foodstuffs and other essential agricultural products. The Conference will devote particular attention to the production and imports of the various countries, with an eye to the general improvement of levels of consumption, and the extent to which productive resources can be made to match the needs of consumption. The Conference will no doubt also consider what international arrangements would be required to improve the efficiency of production and distribution, with due regard to the interests of both producers and consumers. Relief is not included within the scope of the Conference.

In view of the enormous importance of this Conference, will the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs has been given sufficiently wide powers by the Government and will be in a position to make considerable commitments on our behalf?

My hon. Friend can be assured that the War Cabinet have given very close attention to the agenda of this Conference, and my right hon. Friend has been given a very full brief of instructions and a very expert staff to help him.

Can my right hon. Friend give any indication of how long this will take?

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport, who is in the United States, will be present at this Conference?

I presume that we are not in any way committed to the decisions that may be reached by this Conference and that this House would be consulted particularly as regards exports, production and the like?

My hon. Friend may be assured that the ordinary constitutional procedure will be very strictly observed.

The following is the Agenda

  • 1. Consumption levels and requirements.
  • (a) Food.
  • (1) Character and extent of consumption deficiencies in each country.
  • (2) Causes and consequences of malnutrition.
  • (3) Measures for improving standards of consumption (education, etc.).
  • (4) Reasonable national and international goals for improved food consumption.
  • (b) Other essential agricultural products.
  • (1) Pre-war consumption levels in various countries as influenced by prosperity or depression and by buying power of the population.
  • (2) Reasonable national and international goals for improved consumption with sustained employment and expanded industrial activity.
  • 2. Expansion of production and adaptation to consumption needs.
  • (a) Measures for direction of production toward commodities, the supply of which should be increased.
  • (b) Measures for shifting production out of commodities in chronic surplus.
  • (c) Measures for improving agricultural productivity and efficiency.
  • (d) Measures for development and conservation of agricultural resources.
  • (e) Opportunities for occupational adjustments in agricultural populations.
  • 3. Facilitation and improvement of distribution.
  • (a) Relation of national and international economic policies to agricultural problems with special reference to the facilitation of the movement of agricultural products in commerce.
  • (1) Expansion of international trade.
  • (2) Broad policies for assuring increased production and consumption in general.
  • (b) Improvement of agricultural marketing, processing and distribution.
  • (c) Special measures for wider food distribution.
  • (1) Improvement of consumption of low income groups.
  • (2) International dispossession corn-modifies in over supply.
  • (d) Buffer stocks and commodities arrangements to assure equitable prices and adequate supplies.
  • 4. Recommendations for continuing and carrying forward the work of the Conference.