HC Deb 24 March 1919 vol 114 cc17-9
41. Lieutenant-Colonel Sir FREDERICK HALL

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Munitions if he has, in conjunction with the President of the Board of Agriculture, arranged for release for export of certain quantities of superphosphate and compound manures; if firms desirous to export these articles have to obtain a licence from the War Trade Department; if, as a condition of the licences being issued, manufacturers in quoting export prices are required to make allowance for the payment to the Government of £4 a ton in the case of compounds and £3 17s. 6d. a ton in the case of superphosphate, on the ground that these payments represent the equivalent of the total loss incurred by the State in respect of raw materials and bags used in the manufacture and packing of the articles in question; if he will explain in what way this loss arises and on what basis, by whom it was calculated, and if the trade was consulted before the arrangement was made; if he can state how many licences up to the present time have been granted as the result of this concession, and the amount of revenue that has accrued to the Government thereunder; and if, in view of the handicap which these conditions place upon British manufacturers of compounds and superphosphate, he will take immediate steps for the matter to be reconsidered, and have the advice of practical experts taken, in order that British trade may not suffer from this disability?


As the answer to my hon. and gallant Friend's question is a lengthy one, I propose to circulate it with the OFFICIAL REPORT.

The following is the Answer referred to:

Arrangements have been made with the President of the Board of Agriculture for the release of certain quantities of superphosphates and compound manures for export. Firms desiring to export these commodities have to obtain a licence from the War Trade Department. Manufacturers to whom licences are issued have to pay the amounts notified in each instance by the Ministry of Munitions as being equivalent to the total loss incurred by His Majesty's Government in respect of raw materials used in the manufacture and packing of the exported goods. The figures £4 per ton in the case of compounds and £3 17s. 6d. per ton in the case of superphosphates were maximum figures, and manufacturers have been informed that the average amount recovered by the Government would be £3 7s. 4d. for compound fertilisers and £3 0s. 4d. for superphosphates, a deduction of 18s. 4d. from these amounts being made in each case where the bags are provided by the manufacturers. The loss arises from the issue by the Government to manufacturers of pyrites, phosphate rock and bags at prices below cost, and the figures above quoted were calculated from data in the possession of Explosives Supply Branch of the Ministry and the finance branch attached thereto. The exact amount repayable would of course vary with the nature of the material exported. The trade have always been aware that the Government incurred a loss on the import of raw materials for fertilisers and that accordingly an appropriate proportion of this loss would be recoverable in case of export. Four licences have been granted for export and the amount recovered is estimated at £1,000. I cannot agree with the statement that the condition in question imposes any handicap upon British manufacturers of compounds and superphosphates and no complaints to this effect have been received by the Ministry. The principle of recovering loss on the export of subsidised materials has been followed in the case of numerous commodities, and I therefore see no reason to reconsider the position.


Will the hon. Gentleman take into consideration the fact that the Fertiliser Manufacturers' Association has refused to negotiate with the organised workers in the trade for the purpose of dealing with their conditions? Will the question be taken into consideration?


I will inquire into that aspect of the matter.