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Trade And Commerce

Volume 464: debated on Thursday 28 April 1949

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Newsprint

9.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will give an estimate of what loss would be involved if he released for current use at the present market price the Government stock of pulp for newsprint manufacture.

As I informed the hon. Member in reply to a Question on 24th February, pulp is not purchased specifically for newsprint but for the production of all descriptions of paper in which such pulp is used.

Would not the President of the Board of Trade feel it right to answer the Question on the Order Paper and, if I may put a supplementary question, will he tell me if it is a fact that the Newsprint Supply Company have offered to take over the Government's liability for this bulk purchase of pulp, if the Government get out of this business altogether?

I have had many discussions with the Newsprint Supply Company and I have suggested to them that they might care in their own selling prices to anticipate the reduction which it is confidently expected the Government will be making in the near future.

When will the Government get out of this business altogether, so that a true market price can rule?

10.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is satisfied that the large stock of mechanical pulp now held in store on Government account will not deteriorate in condition.

There should be no danger of deterioration provided the stocks are used by the mills in the order of receipt.

Is it not a fact that fungus is already growing on some of these stocks of print and mechanical pulp, and that that is causing a break in the flow of production into newspaper offices at the present time?

As the hon. Member knows, the rate of consumption of newsprint has been increased in the last few days. That will help to reduce stocks somewhat, and, as I have said, if they are used in proper order there is no danger of deterioration.

Dominions And Colonies (Agreements)

11.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what reciprocal arrangements for the long-term purchase of British manufactured goods are made with the Dominions and Colonies with whom we have entered into agreements for guaranteed purchase of food and raw materials on a long-term basis under bulk-buying arrangements.

Does it not seem very undesirable that we should give concessions on the question of long-term purchase and get nothing in return in the way of guarantees?

I think that my hon. Friend is wrong to suggest that we get nothing in return as a result of long-term purchase arrangements within the Commonwealth, because that is of great benefit. But it is not necessary in the case of those countries, as it is in the case of many others, in the course of bilateral negotiations to use those discussions to remove or relax import restrictions upon British goods wherever we can.