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Whisky (Exports To Usa)

Volume 438: debated on Wednesday 4 June 1947

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asked the Minister of Food what extra amount of whisky it is calculated will be exported to the U.S.A. as the result of the increased allocation of 50,000 tons of barley to the distilling industry.

It is expected that the increase in whisky exports to hard currency countries in the next 12 months as compared with 1946 will be 2,400,000 proof gallons. Much of this, but not all, will go to the U.S.A. The recent allocation of 50,000 tons of barley to the distillers will help to replenish the stocks of whisky from which both exports and home supplies are drawn.

Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that we are charging the Americans a sufficiently high price for whisky?

I consulted the Whisky Association on that very point when we came to discuss the new arrangements. They assured me they did not desire an increase, and I found myself in the strange position of urging capitalist employers to raise their prices. They firmly believe that their Own interests and the national interest would be best served by the present prices. Although it seems at first sight that there is a case for a higher price, I think it would be unwise not to take some account of their very expert position.

Can the Minister tell us what amount of dollar exchange per annum this will bring us?

This increase?—2,400,000 proof gallons—a little more than £5 million worth.

Is not this increased allocation still insufficient to enable the industry to work at full production, in view of the very great consumption of stocks which has taken place in the last 10 years?

Is the Minister aware that this whisky, which is sold for 5s. a bottle to the trade in America, is fetching £5 in the black market in the United States? Why is so much whisky being sold to soft currency countries, like Egypt, which charge £1 a bottle duty, and why should it not be possible to get whisky in this country?