HC Deb 15 May 1918 vol 106 cc404-6

There are one or two other important matters which I would like to mention to the House. I should like to refer to this question of paper and paper-making materials. Here, again, was a great source of economy in the use of tonnage. The amount of paper and paper-making materials normally brought to this country represents a considerable amount. In normal times about 90 per cent. of the paper used in this country is either imported or made from imported materials. These imports are now only about one-fifth of the amount that was imported prior to the War. It is quite clear that so essential a material being reduced to only one-fifth of the pre-war amount must really involve very considerable economies in its use. This very limited amount of paper that is available has resulted in very enhanced prices, and one of the activities of the new Paper Controller is in the direction of seeing what sort of restriction can be put upon the prices that are being charged for paper to-day. In the early part of this control a Royal Commission was established to deal with the import and distribution of paper and paper-making materials, but the severe restriction which was placed upon this import later on made it necessary that there should be a tighter form of control than was possible through a Commission, and so a Paper Controller was established in lieu of the Royal Commission, the members of the Commission being appointed as an Advisory Committee to the Paper Controller. As I have said, it is vitally necessary that every possible economy should be exercised in the use of paper. I am sure that the Paper Controller will have the support of everybody, both in the Government as well as out of the Government, in seeing that every economy is exercised in the use of paper.


What steps are being taken to conserve what is now treated as waste paper?


I was just coming to that point. I was going on to say that the Paper Controller is now devoting his energies in three different directions: first of all, the collection of all waste material, particularly of paper and of rag; secondly, increasing the manufacture of paper in this country from home-produced materials; and, thirdly, avoiding the wasteful and unnecessary use of paper. In this current year it is estimated that about half of the paper and strawboard used in this country will be manufactured from home-produced materials, including waste paper, rags, rope, straw, sawdust, and various kinds of grasses. I would desire particularly to call to the attention of the House the method which has been recently discovered, whereby through the use of saw dust it is hoped that a very considerable increase in the amount of paper manufactured will be possible. It involves the use of machinery, but I am very hopeful that from the sawdust, which to-day is very largely wasted, that exists in large quantities in this country, owing to the number of trees that are being felled, and by this process we shall be able to turn what is now largely a waste product into use.

In dealing with the manufacture of strawboards in this country there has been a considerable success, and I hope we shall be able to develop an industry which heretofore has been unknown in this country.