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Newsprint Supplies

Volume 481: debated on Thursday 30 November 1950

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23.

asked the President of the Board of Trade how much of the 100,000 tons of British-made newsprint allocated to the Commonwealth in 1951 has been earmarked for Malaya.

One thousand, eight hundred tons of British newsprint have been allocated for export to Malaya and Singapore in 1951.

In view of the contribution that newspapers in Malaya are making to the solution of the emergency there, and also of the difficulty they are experiencing in getting newsprint at any price, will the Minister consider at least doubling the supply? Further, will he receive a deputation on the subject?

The hon. Gentleman will realise the difficulty which I have in this connection, the more so when I am under strong pressure to reduce exports of newsprint from this country.

Remembering that Malaya is the only part of the British Empire now at war, and realising the urgent need for active propaganda by Press and other means, will not the Minister look once more at the question of this hopelessly inadequate allocation?

I am well aware of the need for newsprint in Malaya. We are doing what we can to help them. It might help if the hon. Gentleman would advise his right hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton) to stop asking for a reduction of exports from this country.

24.

asked the President of the Board of Trade on what grounds he has allotted to the Colonies less than 6 per cent. of the total 1951 allocation to the Commonwealth of newsprint manufactured in the United Kingdom.

The pattern of our newsprint exports follows, with some modifications, the long-term contracts made by United Kingdom mills, which, in turn, reflect our traditional pattern of trade.

Does not the Minister realise that the action taken to cut down imports from dollar countries entirely alters the situation? Does he really think that such a very small proportion is an equitable one, having in mind the comparison of population between the Colonies and the Dominions?

We shall certainly do anything we can to help the Colonies. I think that many of their difficulties arise from the fact that they are unable to buy newsprint for which dollars have been allocated in the dollar area.

When considering the allocation of newsprint to the Colonies, will my right hon. Friend also take into account the fact that the newspapers in Malaya are considerably bigger than the newspapers in this country?

25.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will convene a conference of representatives from the Dominions and the United States of America to investigate and consider the best means of ensuring an equitable distribution of newsprint so as to ensure a minimum of an eight page daily newspaper in this country.

I have had this idea in mind for some time, but should prefer to consider it when the supply position for next year is somewhat clearer.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that the mistake he has always made in the past has been in not looking far enough ahead? Is not he aware that his action in causing the cancellation of the Canadian contract drove the newsprint into the American market; and, having got the newspapers into this mess, has he not some responsibility to get them out of it?

Three, if not four, times this year we have extended our arrange- ment with Canada still further ahead at the request of the Newsprint Supply Company. On each occasion they said that if we would do that it would solve the problem.