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Newsprint

Volume 463: debated on Thursday 14 April 1949

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26.

asked the President of the Board of Trade why the Government are not passing on immediately to the newsprint mills the benefit of the reduction in the price of pulp.

The reduced prices at which pulp is being bought have only become effective in April. As the hon. Member was informed on 24th February our selling prices are fixed from time to time at levels which should enable us to dispose of our stocks without loss.

Is it not a fact that the true price of pulp in a free market today is £18 a ton to the mills, whereas the Government are charging £26 10s. a ton, and does not this mean that they have bought too much pulp at too high a price?

We should have had the argument the other way round if we had not bought sufficient.

Does the hon. Gentleman mean that it is impossible to buy pulp at the reduced price or simply that the Government were not willing to buy it?

27.

asked the President of the Board of Trade how many tons of pulp for paper-making are held in stock by the Government; and how long he estimates these stocks will last at the current rate of consumption.

The total stocks of woodpulp at 5th March amounted to 309,000 tons or about 14 weeks' consumption at the current rate.

Can the Minister say whether there is any danger of pulp deteriorating in store if kept for several months?

In view of this large stock which the Minister says he has, why spend dollars on buying Canadian newsprint when we can spend those dollars on getting food or feeding grains from Canada, especially if it be true that this pulp will deteriorate? Surely, this is bad business.

28.

asked the President of the Board of Trade to what proportion of their capacity the newsprint mills are now working; and what proportion of the licensed output this represents.

The rate of production in March (exclusive of certain special arrangements for export) was 51 per cent. of pre-war against a general quota of 50 per cent. for the current licensing period. I am not aware that any particular change in the rate of production has taken place in April.

Does not this really show that it is high time the Government got out of this business altogether? When do they intend to do so?