asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will state the totals of home grown and imported hardwood allocated to the furniture manufacturing industry in the first quarter of 1947 as compared with the same period last year; and what steps are being taken to augment the supply in the near future.
About a quarter of the total hardwood allocated for all purposes in each of the two periods mentioned was allocated to domestic furniture. The total quantity available for allocation was, however, reduced by some 25 per cent. in Period I of 1947, as compared with the corresponding period of 1946. Home grown and imported hardwoods are not separately allocated. Every possible step is being taken to secure maximum supplies of all types of hardwood, including furniture dimension stock.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that since July last year the cut in the allocation of hardwoods to the timber industry has been 60 per cent.? Can he assure the House that his Department is taking a long-term view of this, to avoid any recurrence of the present bottleneck?
Nobody regrets the very great cuts that have had to be made in hardwood for the furniture industry more than I, and we are doing everything in our power in every part of the world to secure hardwood.
Can the hon. Gentleman say whether the reduction of which he spoke was entirely in the imported programme, or partly in imported and partly in home grown; and, if entirely in imported wood, from which countries the wood came, the supply of which was cut?
It would be impossible to say that. It was, in any case, a cut in the allocation to the furniture industry, whether imported or home-grown timber.
In view of the regret he has expressed at the shortage would the hon. Gentleman be good enough to explain on what policy his Department last year granted a licence to a football pool firm for a large number of desks that involved the use of hard wood?
I am afraid that that is an entirely different question.
Can the hon. Gentleman say whether, as a result of the steps he is taking, there is good hope that there will be hard wood available for the furniture industry this year?
I should not like to hazard a guess. As the hon. Gentleman probably knows, discussions are taking place at the moment, and I should not like to anticipate the result of the discussions, or prejudice them by anything I say here.
Is the hon. Gentleman doing all he can to encourage the use of homegrown silver birch, which is much used on the Continent but not much in this country?