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Trade And Commerce

Volume 465: debated on Tuesday 17 May 1949

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Housing Units (Export)

50.

asked the President of the Board of Trade how many prefabricated housing units have been exported to Eire or any European country during the last 12 months; and how many under the headings of temporary and permanent, respectively.

Prefabricated housing units are not distinguished separately in the export statistics. I understand, however, that no applications have been received in the last 12 months for an allocation of timber for exports of housing units to the areas mentioned.

Photographic Materials (Export)

52.

asked the President of the Board of Trade the value of photographic apparatus and material exported from the United Kingdom to European markets in the first quarter of 1949; and what were the comparable figures for the last quarter of 1948.

The value of exports of photographic apparatus and materials to European countries in the first quarter of 1949 was £458,000 compared with £439,000 in the last quarter of 1948.

New Factories

56.

asked the President of the Board of Trade the number of new factories and extensions, respectively, that have been erected in each of the 11 regions; also the number approved since December, 1944, up to the latest available date.

As the answer contains a number of figures, I will, with my hon. Friend's permission, circulate a statement in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the statement:

NUMBER OF NEW FACTORIES AND EXTENSION TO EXISTING FACTORIES OF 5,000 SQUARE FEET AND OVER APPROVED AND COMPLETED, DURING THE PERIOD DECEMBER 1944 TO THE 31ST MARCH, 1949.
RegionsNew factoriesExtensions to existing factoriesTotal new factories and extensions
1. NORTHERN:
Approved222248470
Completed139123262
2. EAST & WEST RIDINGS:
Approved117371488
Completed45156201
3. NORTH MIDLAND:
Approved91270361
Completed196180
4. EASTERN:
Approved90184274
Completed2679105
5. LONDON & SOUTH EASTERN:
Approved171361532
Completed4398141
6. SOUTHERN:
Approved61104165
Completed173451
7. SOUTH WESTERN:
Approved84125209
Completed4462106
8. WALES:
Approved159224383
Completed8793180
9. MIDLAND:
Approved185553738
Completed38128166
10. NORTH WESTERN:
Approved158563721
Completed50224274
11. SCOTLAND:
Approved335342677
Completed151162313
Total—Approved1,6733,3455,018
—Completed6591,2201,879

Overseas Buyers Club (Catering)

53.

asked the President of the Board of Trade to what firm he gave the contract for catering at the Overseas Buyers Club, Earls Court; whether a list of proposed prices was submitted to him in advance; and what are the charges for a cup of tea, a cup of coffee and a sandwich.

The catering arrangements for the Earls Court buildings, including the Overseas Buyers Club, are carried out by the owners, Earls Court Limited, as part of the tenancy agreement and no separate contract is placed by the Board of Trade. The proposed tariff for the club was discussed with the caterers before the opening of the Fair. The charge for a cup of tea is 4d. and for a cup of coffee 5d.; the price of a sandwich varies from 1s. upwards. I am sending the hon. Member a copy of the complete tariff of charges.

Will the hon. Gentleman check up on the amounts he has given, because my information—from a reliable source—is that the charge for a cup of coffee was one shilling and for a cup of tea, eightpence? Is he aware that these high charges are likely to create a very unfavourable impression on those who attended and undo a great deal of the advantage provided by the exhibition?

I will have a look at the disparity in the charges mentioned, but that is the information given me. The Board of Trade have to accept the arrangement with the Earls Court association. It is private enterprise which is carrying out the work, not the Government.

Is my hon. Friend aware that during the war the Minister of Food laid down that the minimum number of cups of tea to be obtained from one pound of tea was 250 and that generally 250 to 300 cups of tea are obtained? Will he make a calculation at fourpence a cup to see how much they are drawing in from one pound of tea and he will find that there is more profit in tea than in whisky, or in any other beverage?

Textile Prices

54.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the experience of textile exhibitors at the British Industries Fair was that British producers found it difficult to make their prices sufficiently competitive under present conditions; and what steps he proposes to take to assist the textile industry to effect price reductions.

I understand that some buyers have commented on certain of our textile prices, but such comments are far from being general. One object of the Government's drive to increase the output and efficiency of our textile industries is to secure lower costs and therefore lower prices, but high world prices of raw materials, particularly of wool, are a severe handicap.

Is there now any possibility of relief to the textile industry from quota and currency restrictions, especially in view of the effect of the dominating influence of the Italians in the Latin-American market?

British Industries Fair (Results)

55.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he can give an indication of the amount of business transacted at the British Industries Fair; and how this compares with last year.

It has never been found possible to make even an approximate assessment of the amount of business transacted at the British Industries Fair, but, according to reports received from exhibitors and from the officials concerned with the Fair in London and Birmingham, both the volume of orders received and the nature of the inquiries from overseas suggest that the ultimate results are likely to surpass those of the 1948 Fair.