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War Economy

Gifts to Britain

Gifts to Britain

War Expenses Account for the year 1946–47 recorded, under payments, an item ‘Gifts to Britain’, £13·6 million.2 Reference has already been made to a gift of food to the value of over £1 million, out of the war surpluses held by the War Assets Realisation Board.3 Not all of this food was used by Britain herself. In acknowledging the gift, Sir Ben Smith, Minister of Food, said:4

‘You were so good as to indicate that the foodstuffs could be at our disposal for use where we think they will be needed. The gift consists of a great number of items. Certain of them we feel will be most useful in India, particularly the whole milk powder, malted milk, and service type biscuits. These we have offered to the Indian authorities, who have accepted them with gratitude, and the necessary shipping arrangements are being put in hand. A part of the dehydrated vegetables will be needed in Malaya.

‘We feel that it would be best for all the remaining items to be shipped to this country. The sausages, canned peas, canned tomatoes, and tomato puree, and possibly other items will be a welcome addition to our food supplies in the United Kingdom. They will be valued too as one more token of New Zealand's sympathy and help in times of difficulty.

‘As regards the substantial quantities of processed vegetables, wartime increase in production of potatoes and other fresh vegetables in the United Kingdom has been so great that it makes additional supplies of most types of dehydrated or canned food vegetables unnecessary to civilian consumption. Arrangements are being made for most of the processed vegetables to be used for relieving distress in European countries.

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‘May I again thank you most cordially for this gift and for the continued efforts by New Zealand to assist in overcoming the grave and worldwide shortage of food supplies which I feel will continue to face us during these coming months.’

In 1947 Britain, in common with other European countries, was swept by a blizzard of unprecedented severity. Her production was set back significantly at the very time she was struggling desperately to recover from the devastations of war. Commonwealth countries rallied round to assist and made generous donations to the country which had borne such a large portion of the economic as well as the military burden of the war.

In March 1947 New Zealand made a gift of £10 million sterling, equivalent to some £12·5 million in New Zealand currency. In announcing the gift Mr Fraser said:1

‘This gift from the Government and people of New Zealand to the Government and people of the United Kingdom, is in recognition of the magnificent and unprecedented effort of the United Kingdom and her people in maintaining freedom and making possible its expansion in the years to come.

‘It will afford some reduction in the heavy load which the United Kingdom Government and people are carrying at this time, and recognise the enormous burden the United Kingdom Government has carried and is bearing during the post-war period.’

2 Under UNRRA New Zealand also contributed over £5 million in the years 1945–46 to 1948–49 towards relief and rehabilitation in European and other countries.

3 p. 522.

4 As reported in the Evening Post, 21 March 1946.

1 Evening Post, 5 March 1947.