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Supplementary Estimates

Volume 463: debated on Monday 21 March 1949

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Resolution reported:

"That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £121,876,789, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1949, for expenditure in respect of the Supplementary Estimates."

[ For details of Vote, see OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th March, 1949; Vol. 462, c. 2415–6.]

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."

9.25 p.m.

I should just like to point out that under the new system we have had exactly six minutes before the Guillotine falls on the Supplementary Estimates, so that the Debate for Which we have asked the Minister of Food to be present has had to be postponed. However, I should like to give him due notice—as I think this is the appropriate time—that we propose to try to get such a Debate at the earliest possible moment, because not only did we wish to discuss how it was that there is such a great increase demanded by the Supplementary Estimate on the trading accounts of his Department, but as the trading accounts covered the question of meat supplies we were proposing to ask him further questions about the deplorable position in which we are with regard to the meat ration. Last Monday I am afraid I had to use certain words about the right hon. Gentleman's administration, saying that there was muddle, miscalculation and mismanagement. I hope I shall not have to do so every Monday, but certainly the same thing is as true today when discussing the meat ration as it was last Monday when discussing the Groundnut Scheme. It is much too late to go into this question today, and I can only express the hope that the negotiations which I understand are now going on will be successful.

I cannot expect the right hon. Gentleman to give any reply now, but perhaps in the remaining minute he would have an opportunity of saying regretfully that his right hon. Friend was wrong in the reply she gave the other day about the payments, because when I asked her from recollection whether, in fact, we had not paid in advance for all the meat which was to be covered by the contract she said no, that we had only paid for what we got. I should like to be reassured whether she is right or I am right, because under, I think it is, Clause 4 (a) of the Andes Agreement we pledged ourselves and undertook to pay, not only the £100 million in advance, but also an extra sum of £10 million, which was the subject of discussion at the time. Now, I had assumed that we had carried out the agreement, and if I am wrong and the right hon. Lady was right I think the House ought to know clearly. I think it probably was just a mistake in her memory, speaking from the Front Bench without notice. If that is so, I am sure the right hon. Gentleman would be glad of the opportunity of putting that right. As to the further matters that we want to discuss, I give him warning that we shall take a very early opportunity to do so.

9.29 p.m.

I am very glad the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has told us that we shall have an opportunity to discuss this Estimate, because we welcome that very much, and we have been somewhat disappointed that on neither of these two occasions has time allowed this discussion to take place.

As the right hon. and gallant Gentleman said, we have simply had the somewhat monotonous reiterations on Mondays of his views on my Department, and we should very much like to have the opportunity of showing, quite frankly, what nonsense those reiterations are.

On the one subject which the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has raised, the Andes payments on meat, I can tell the House very shortly the position there. As I understand it—and this is what my right hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary said—the amount of meat which we shall receive —some of it late, but we shall receive it in the end—has been paid for, but we shall not suffer any financial loss by the fact that Argentina is in arrears in time on the shipments of the meat. It is extremely unfortunate, and we deplore it and detest very much that they are in arrears in time and in quantity, but we shall not suffer financial loss.

But the right hon. Lady said:

"We have only paid for the meat which has come in."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th March, 1949; Vol. 462, c. 2304.]
That cannot be true.

It being after half past Nine o'Clock, Mr. SPEAKER proceeded, pursuant to Standing Order No. 16 (Business of Supply) to put the Question necessary to dispose of the Resolution under consideration.

Question "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution" put, and agreed to.

Mr. SPEAKER proceeded to put forthwith, with respect to each Resolution ordered to be reported by the Committee of Supply and not yet agreed to by the House, the Question, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in that Resolution."