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Greece (Food Supplies)

Volume 389: debated on Tuesday 11 May 1943

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asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Economic Warfare whether he can give the latest information available as to the shipment of food supplies, and especially dried milk and vitamins for children, which are now being sent to Greece, and as to the adequacy of these supplies to prevent grave malnutrition; and whether the neutral authorities supervising their distribution continue to be satisfied that no abuse has occurred in connection therewith?

Food supplies which have reached Greece during the last three months, in pursuance of the relief scheme, comprise 28,703 tons of wheat, 8,561 tons of pulse and 1,096 tons of condensed milk. Further shipments which have left Canada but which have not yet arrived at Greek ports include approximately 32,000 tons of wheat, 6,000 tons of pulse and 600 tons of condensed milk. I have not yet been informed whether these cargoes include vitamin tablets, though we have agreed to their inclusion. As regards the state of nutrition in Greece, recent reports have shown a considerable improvement as compared with a year ago, especially in Athens. But, in the absence of definite information regarding many areas, I should hesitate to say that this improvement is equally marked throughout the country. As regards the last part of the Question, I have nothing to add to the reply which I gave to my hon. Friend on 16th March.

In view of the grave concern in this country about the starving peoples in Europe, is it not possible for the Government to change their policy, in view of the fact that the people who are suffering belong to nations which are very friendly to us? They are not enemies.

I think it does no service to the countries concerned to make out, as is done in many quarters, that there is any analogy between conditions which existed in Greece when the relief scheme was started and those which prevail now in Western and Northern Europe.

The wheat, which, so far as we are able to ensure it, is at the rate of 15,000 tons a month, is a free gift from the Canadian Government.

Is not a considerable portion of those supplies purchased by the Greek Red Cross or the Greek Government?

To the best of my recollection condensed milk is purchased with funds supplied by Greek sympathisers on the other side of the Atlantic, but the wheat is the free gift of the Canadian Government.