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Russian Timber

Volume 437: debated on Tuesday 13 May 1947

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asked the President of the Board of Trade what deliveries of timber from the U.S.S.R. have been made and received in this country to date against the special sale of 5,988 tons of rubber.

Fourteen thousand standards of soft wood and 5,000 standards of mining timber were shipped from Russia last year. A further 6,000 standards of soft wood, which could not be lifted before the ports closed, will be shipped this year. These purchases were made as part of a wider agreement reached with the Russians last September which covered not only the sale of rubber referred to but also a settlement of certain financial questions about war-time supplies.

Does the Minister realise that that is not on all fours with the reply he gave on 29th April, when he stated that the reason for the handing over of 6,000 tons of rubber at a price 3d. below that to which it was sold to manufacturers here, was that the arrangements for receiving timber from the U.S.S.R. were being negotiated? Is he aware that his answer now tries to evade that issue by putting it on a wider basis? Would he also say whether it would not be very wise, in view of the non-fulfilment of this contract, to see that future negotiations with Russia are carried out on the basis of receiving the goods before we send ours?

It is not at all unusual for accommodations to be arrived at when parties are bargaining, whether it be a question of the State or of commerce, as the hon. Gentleman knows very well