§ 41. Lieutenant Butcher
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether he is aware that a proportion of seed potatoes transported 198 by routes determined by his Ministry, have been frozen; and whether he has arranged for suitable compensation to be paid to the owners?
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
I am informed that a number of consignments were found to be frosted on arrival. The Government cannot accept responsibility for damage caused to traffic because it was sent in the national interest by a route other than its normal route. If, however, any claims are based on alleged neglect or default of the transport undertakings, they will be considered by the undertakings on their merits in the usual way. I understand that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Food recently discussed their difficulties with the merchants' and growers' organisations, and that the representations then made are under consideration.
§ Lieutenant Butcher
While thanking the hon. Gentleman for his reply, may I ask whether he is aware that he is entirely forfeiting the good will of the people concerned if he disclaims responsibility in this matter? Will he not reconsider his decision?
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
I am advised that if the Government accepted the principle contained in the hon. Member's suggestion, it would take them very far in present circumstances. The organisation concerned must recognise that the transport difficulties of the Government are very great. I hope the hon. Member will convey that the representations which have been made are being favourably and sympathetically considered by the Minister of Food.