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Rubber Industry

Volume 524: debated on Wednesday 3 March 1954

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, in view of the importance of rubber to the economy of Malaya, what action he is taking to improve the position of the industry.

The Federation Government are endeavouring to improve the efficiency of the industry by encouraging replanting with high yielding trees and have instituted control over grading and packing to improve the quality of rubber exported. Extensive research and development work is carried out in this country and in Malaya to improve the technical qualities of natural rubber and develop new uses for it. A comprehensive inquiry into the Malayan rubber industry, covering costs of production and taxation, is also in hand.

In view of the fact that many plantations cannot produce rubber under about 2s. a lb. and that the present price is round about Is. 4½d., may I ask my hon. and learned Friend if he can assure the House that the American Government are doing their utmost to help the producers of natural rubber to get a fair price for their product and so be enabled to pay decent wages to their workers?

As I understand it, at the October meeting of the management committee of the Rubber Study Group various recommendations were made and the U.S. Government took action on two of them but not on the third, which related to an increase in the price of synthetic rubber.

Would the hon. and learned Gentleman take this up with the Minister of Supply with a view to purchasing rubber now that it is cheap and stockpiling it in this country, so that we may have a stockpile here and help the rubber industry in Malaya?