74 and 77.
asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) to what extent the price of soft timber has risen since the controls on such timber were partially relaxed;(2) what approaches he has made to the trade organisation to endeavour to restrict the rise in the price of timber for housing needs.
Since the statutory maximum prices ruling up to the 28th February this year were fixed in April, 1950, overseas softwood prices, like those of most other raw materials, have risen fast, and in many cases freight rates have shown large increases. Timber Control was therefore selling below cost during the period, preceding the revocation of the Imported Softwood Prices Order, 1950, as amended on 1st March, 1951. Prices are now necessarily related to the current costs of public and private buyers alike, and it is too early to say at what level they are likely to settle down in the new conditions. There is, however, no evidence that any part of the increase in current softwood prices is attributable to the measure of private import which is now permitted.My right hon. Friend received from representatives of the softwood timber trade assurances that their selling prices would not contain a higher profit margin than is reasonable in present market conditions. The Timber Trade Federation of the United Kingdom have also agreed, at his suggestion, to set up a special committee, including representatives of the major consuming interests, to deal with any price and distribution problems that may arise.