asked the President of the Board of Trade what percentage of the timber used for all purposes was used by the boat building industry in the years 1935–39 inclusive, what percentage is allocated to this industry at the present time; if he is aware that there is a risk of considerable unemployment in this industry in the near future owing to the inadequate supply of timber and that, if such unemployment is prolonged, many skilled workers will be lost to the industry for ever; and if he will take steps to increase the supply of those kinds of timber which are more suitable for boatbuilding than for other purposes and devise, in consultation with the Admiralty, a scheme of priority in the allocation of timber for the building and repair of food barges, fishing smacks, boats needed by the Admiralty and other craft.
I regret that the detailed figures asked for the first two parts of the Question are not available. I am aware that, as a result of the limited quantities of timber available, there is some danger of unemployment and loss of skilled workmen in the boat buiding industry. All practicable steps are, however, already being taken to increase timber supplies. A scheme of allocation of the amount of timber available to them has already been devised by the Admiralty for the construction and repair of small craft but it is not possible to grant licences for the construction, except for export, of boats to be used for purposes of pleasure.