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Motor Spirit Imports

Volume 437: debated on Thursday 8 May 1947

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asked the Minister of Fuel and Power (1) for what reason is motor spirit being imported from the U.S.A. in much larger quantities than in 1938; and if he will take steps to reduce the amount, at least to the 1938 rate, in order to decrease dollar expenditure;(2) what reason has the monthly rate of motor spirit imports from Iran been reduced from about 47,000,000 gallons to nothing; and if he will take steps to secure that imports of motor spirit from Iran are increased to their former rate.

The motor spirit requirements of the sterling area have to be considered as a whole and as the British controlled production of motor spirit is considerably short of the sterling areas requirements we have got to provide dollars for the purchase of considerable quantities from American sources. It makes no difference, therefore, whether this short fall is met by bringing sterling oil to the U.K. and by sending the American oil to other parts of the sterling area or vice versa. The objective must be to see that -oil is physically transported as short a distance as possible since this minimises the need for tankers, which again represent marginally a dollar expenditure. Sales by British companies to American companies in the East coupled with purchases by British companies from American companies in the West can also contribute to the overall economy in tankers and, therefore, dollars. It will be appreciated that the pattern of oil movements is accordingly always changing. As a result of these various factors for the first three months of 1947 no motor spirit was imported by the U.K. from Iran and imports of motor spirit from the U.S.A. were higher than for the corresponding period of 1938. On balance our dollar account has benefited by this arrangement of supplies.