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Tobacco Re-Exports

Volume 437: debated on Tuesday 13 May 1947

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asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what proportion of tobacco imported into this country was re-exported after processing to other countries in the hard-currency area and in the soft-currency area, respectively, from 1st January, 1946, to 1st April, 1947

0.2 per cent. and 6 per cent. respectively.

That is a considerable figure to soft currency areas. Will the Chancellor of the Exchequer say what means he proposes to take so that we do not expend our dollar loan in order to sell tobacco and cigarettes to soft currency countries where they, in turn, sell them to the public at a much cheaper price than that at which the consumer is able to buy them here?

For the purposes of this classification the whole of the British Empire, including Canada, is classified as a soft currency area, and, in fact, 77.5 per cent. of the soft currency exports here defined go to British Empire markets. I think the hon. Gentleman is slightly misunderstanding the situation.

That is not a satisfactory answer. Will the Chancellor explain whether in his view it is wise to expend a high proportion of our dollar loan on buying tobacco and cigarettes which are then sent to soft currency areas, even though they are in the British Empire?

Over 77 per cent. go to the British Empire and I think that is a pretty good proportion, and we ought to be pleased with it.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what proportion processing adds to the price of the tobacco bought in America?

Would the right hon. Gentleman consider the importation of tobacco from Bulgaria where I understand there is a considerable quantity available for export?