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Canadian Foodstuffs (Payment)

Volume 465: debated on Tuesday 17 May 1949

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asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer on what grounds the Canadian Government have refused to accept sterling in payment for food supplied to this country.

On the purely technical point, I am not aware that the Canadian authorities have refused to accept initial payment in sterling for our food purchases. In present circumstances, however, as sales by Canada to the United Kingdom and the rest of the sterling area greatly exceed sales to Canada by the United Kingdom and the rest of the sterling area, the excess of the sterling area's purchases over its sales has in effect to be paid for in dollars.

May I ask my hon. Friend two questions arising out of that reply: first, are we to understand that no representations have been made by the Government suggesting to the Canadian Government that they should accept sterling; and second, is he aware that there are a large number of people in this country who manufacture goods which could quite easily be sent to Canada but that Canada prefers to buy from America?

—and as our purchases from Canada exceed Canada's purchases from us, it is inevitable that the excess has to be paid for in dollars.

Has my hon. Friend considered the extraordinary state of affairs that Canada is the only part of the British Empire which refuses to accept sterling, and what does he propose to do about it? Sooner or later they will have to send their food to America.

The answer is that Canada is in the American continent. That is no responsibility of this Government.

In view of the very grave situation and the light-hearted way in which my hon. Friend deals with this matter I propose to raise the whole question on the Adjournment.