asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether he can give an estimate of shipping tonnage saved by the establishment of the Middle East supply centre; and whether it is the intention of His Majesty's Government to set up a similar centre in any other theatre of war?
I regret that it would be a laborious, if not an impossible task, to furnish a reliable estimate of the aggregate tonnage which has been saved, but I am glad to be able to tell my hon. Friend that the Middle East Supply Centre, acting with the Governments and other interests within its sphere, has been instrumental in effecting drastic reductions in the shipping required for civilian supplies. These reductions have been secured by confining imports to essentials, by making full use of local resources, by increasing local production, and by converting locomotives from coal to oil. The North African Economic Board, on which we act jointly with the United States, is broadly similar in organisation to the Middle East Supply Centre, The establishment of other similar organisations elsewhere will depend on circumstances and on the general development of the war.