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United Nations Children's Emergency Fund

Volume 446: debated on Wednesday 28 January 1948

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31.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will now agree to a grant to the International Children's Emergency Fund to provide supplementary food and medical aid to nursing mothers and children of 12 countries in Europe and of China, since for a million pounds provided by His Majesty's Government the fund would benefit by an additional six million dollars, which will not be so if the help from this country is provided from private sources only.

32.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether sympathetic reconsideration will be given to the need of contributing to the United Nations Children's Emergency Fund in view of the contributions given by 17 other Nations; that some further contributions are indirectly dependent on a contribution forthcoming from His Majesty's Government, particularly in view of the fact that such a contribution could be spent within the sterling area; and that the U.S.S.R. is co-operating in this humane purpose.

34.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement on the proposed action of His Majesty's Government in relation to the Children's Emergency Fund; whether it is intended to make a contribution along with the 14 other Governments who have already subscribed, or whether other forms of assistance are contemplated.

I would refer the hon. Members to the reply given to the hon. Member for West Leyton (Mr. Sorensen) on 3rd November, to which I have nothing to add.

Is the Minister aware that that reply was quite contrary to British traditions and to the generous instincts of the British people; and will he look at the matter still further in view of the fact that France, Czechoslovakia and Poland, countries with economic difficulties, have already made contributions?

May I press my right hon. Friend to reconsider this matter, in view of the fact that Norway, Peru, Iceland, Luxembourg and Denmark have already contributed; and does he realise that at Lake Success this did not reflect happily on the British Government, when we were one of the main Governments to stand out against giving a set contribution which would attract another sum from the United States?

Is not my right hon. Friend aware that in this particular case the Soviet Union has also collaborated, and that that in itself might be a very useful means of preserving some kind of contact with that country?

Does the Minister realise how very widespread the feeling in the country is that the Government should take this course; that the question of British prestige as well as British generosity is involved; and if it is the case that the Foreign Office is resisting the earnest desire of the Treasury to find this money, will he change its mind?

Will the Minister take into account that the contribution from the British Government would not involve the loss of foreign currency, and could be utilised in the form of shipping services, medical supplies and other things available in this country?

Is the Minister aware that the reply given by the Under-Secretary did not make any sense; and that the contributions to be given by voluntary organisations in this country are no substitute for a contribution from the British Government?

I could not accept the imputation that my hon. Friend's reply did not make sense. Wherever the contributions come from, they come from the same national dividend. However, it is quite plain that there is a great deal of feeling in this matter and I will gladly agree to reconsider it. I do not want to be dishonest. The decision was taken, not in answer to our inclinations but in respect of Treasury facts upon this and allied subjects.