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Mutual Security Aid

Volume 530: debated on Tuesday 13 July 1954

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4.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what arrangements have been made for the continuance of United States aid in the form of agricultural products under Section 550 of the Mutual Security Act after the current year.

6.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what discussions he has had with the Government of the United States of America regarding the products to be supplied under the Mutual Security Act next year.

Proposals for foreign aid in 1954–55 are still before the U.S. Congress. It is not known, therefore, whether any further offers of aid in the form of surplus agricultural commodities will be made to this country, and no discussions with the U.S. Government have taken place regarding the supply of such commodities next year.

While I appreciate that in the short run this is an arrangement which helps both Governments, might I ask my right hon. Friend not to lose sight of the long-term distortion to trade which might result in part from the immediate disturbance of markets, which is out of all proportion to the relative smallness of the shipments?

Whether I should pay attention to my hon. Friend's question or not is really beside the point, because the interests concerned have already brought these considerations to our notice and we are aware of all the difficulties which may or may not be involved.

Is it not the case that under the Mutual Security Act it is a condition of these arrangements that there should be no interference with normal trade and that, in fact, the purchase made under the Act should be aditional to those which would be made from other countries, particularly in the Commonwealth.

5.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the consultation he has had with Commonwealth Governments regarding the future extent and effects on Commonwealth trade of the policy of accepting United States defence aid in the form of surplus United States food products.

The action to be taken about future Mutual Security Act purchases could best be considered in relation to specific offers. The interests of Commonwealth and Colonial producers have been and will be the subject of constant attention by H.M.G.

Does that reply mean that, on the general policy—the general political issues involved—there is no consultation with the Commonwealth, but only in regard to particular shipments?

No, Sir. There have been general consultations in the recent proceedings of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, and, of course, there have been, and no doubt will be, consultation about particular commodities as they affect particular countries.

But, if the conditions laid down in the Mutual Security Act are to be carried out, surely there should not be any adverse repercussions on trade with the Commonwealth?

Unfortunately, we do not live in so perfect a world as may be envisaged by the provisions of any particular Act, whether of another legislature or of the domestic legislature. It is a difficulty of reconciling human nature and human interests with the provisions of a particular statute.

Will my right hon. Friend also bear in mind that the Commonwealth have made arrangements for the progressive expansion of production in line with his own injunction to save dollars?