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Wolfram And Tin (Portuguese Exports To Germany)

Volume 393: debated on Wednesday 3 November 1943

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what action has been taken by his Majesty's Government during the past year to persuade the Portuguese Government to refrain from supplying the Axis with wolfram and tin; and whether, in view of the fact that Portugal is the main supplier to Germany of these metals, which are vital for the production of war materials and these supplies have increased materially each year, he will immediately approach the Portuguese Government with a view to their banning any further deliveries of these metals to our enemy?

His Majesty's Government have left the Portuguese Government in no doubt as to the importance which they attach to Portuguese exports of wolfram and tin to the Axis. Agreements have been entered into which provide that the greater part of the total Portuguese wolfram output comes to the United Nations. But for these agreements the quantity of wolfram reaching the enemy would undoubtedly have been very substantially greater than has in fact been the case. Nevertheless the need for securing a reduction in these exports to the Axis is never forgotten and I can assure my hon. Friend that every effort will be made to reach a further agreement with the Portuguese Government to this end.

Could the right hon. Gentleman take steps not only to exert whatever pressure is possible on the Portuguese Government but to bring home to the Portuguese people that the exports of wolfram to Germany have increased by 10 times in the last two years and the exports of tin by 20 times and that without those exports a large part of Germany's industry would have come to a standstill?

I can assure the hon. Member that we shall do everything possible to impress on the Portuguese Government and people the importance we attach to this matter.

Are not the Portuguese an ancient and honoured Ally who will do their best to help us, and is it not a great mistake to annoy them by such questions?