HC Deb 22 October 1919 vol 120 cc32-3

asked the President of the Board of Trade how many contracts for material needed by the Government or for any undertaking controlled directly or indirecty by the Government have been placed abroad since the Armistice to date; and whether he will give the amounts in detail and the reasons in each case for the step?


Contracts for material needed by the Government have been placed abroad by the Board of Trade, since the Armistice to date, only in respect of timber and potash. With regard to timber, 348 contracts, representing a total of, approximately, £12,964,000, were entered into, and I am sending my hon. Friend particulars showing for each country the number of contracts placed and the estimated value. With regard to potash, one contract has been entered into with the German Government representing an amount of £750,000. In each case the contracts were entered into in order to secure necessary supplies of the commodities in question for the United Kingdom. The potash contract also provided a means whereby the German Government might pay for a portion of their imports of food. With regard to contracts entered into by Departments other than the Board of Trade, I would refer my hon. Friend to. the Ministers responsible for the contracting Departments concerned.

Major-General Sir NEWTON MOORE

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell the House how many timber contracts have been let within the British Empire?


I could provide the full figures, but I do not carry them in my head. A great many of the contracts are in Canada; there are some in Finland and some in Sweden. These are all contracts entered into at the end of last year, or the early part of this year. There are no. recent contracts.


Would the right hon. Gentleman give his attention to the ques- tion of shipping to Australia? At the present time there is any amount of timber there awaiting export to this country—


That does not arise out of the question on the Paper.