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American Non-Fiction Books (Import Restrictions)

Volume 443: debated on Thursday 30 October 1947

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asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will state the average annual expenditure in respect of the period 1940–45 upon non-fiction books imported from the U.S.A.; the amount spent in 1947 during the free period; and the estimated dollar saving expected from the recent restrictions placed upon the importation of such books.

The value of imports in 1940–45 averaged some £170,000, and the value from 1st January to nth September, 1947, when the open general licence was revoked, was £729,000. The monthly rate of imports was increasing and it is estimated that an annual saving of nearly five million dollars will result from the restrictions now imposed.

Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that this cut will not adversely affect scientific and medical research, particularly having regard to the shortage of paper and the resulting shortage of technical books and the like in this country at present?

We are arranging for imports of non-fiction to come in up to the rate of 100 per cent. by value of pre-war imports. I recognise that is not 100 per cent. in volume, but this new change has only recently been made. We are watching the position and if we see evidence that essential books are being kept out, we will certainly look into the matter again.

Can the Minister relate these import figures to corresponding export figures?