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Paper Supplies, Italy

Volume 437: debated on Tuesday 6 May 1947

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asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the Italian book-printing industry has experienced a remarkable revival; and whether he will render it possible for us to import paper from Italy as being a soft currency nation, or conversely, send our book printing orders to be executed in Italy.

I am not aware that any substantial quantity of paper is available from Italy, but any paper which is imported from any source must form a part of the total supplies for all purposes and would be allocated accordingly. We are always prepared to consider on their merits applications by book publishers to send part of their quota overseas for printing, but if the books are to be subsequently imported into this country the importer must comply with any restrictions on the import of books which may be in force.

Can the hon. Gentleman say, in view of the fact that Italy is a soft currency country like ours, where she is getting these big supplies of paper from, which we cannot get?

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that nothing in regard to Italy will make up for giving the lowest priority of coal for paper production? Has he yet read Sir Stanley Unwin's letter in "The Times"?

I have read Sir Stanley Unwin's letter in "The Times." It is not true that paper production has the lowest priority for coal.

Is the hon. Gentleman going to do anything about this urgent question of coal for paper production?

I am most anxious to do all I can to encourage the production of paper, and when, in due course, we come to debate the subject in this House, I think it will be found that paper for book publishing has a very high priority.