§ 28. Sir HARRY BRITTAIN
asked the Prime Minister, whether, in view of the rapidly increasing price of foreign-imported petrol, the Government propose to take any steps to extend the supply from British sources: if so, in what directions; whether he is aware that at the time of the armistice an average of 30,000,000 gallons of benzol per annum was being produced in this country, and that to-day this output has dropped to less than 20,000,000 gallons; whether seeing that it has been proved by official tests that the British-produced material is far superior to the imported article, a successful effort to increase the manufacture of motor spirit in these islands would not only assist British industry, but would also eliminate the risk of being dependent upon external supplies for this all-important fuel; and whether he will give serious consideration to the proposal that all benzol made in this country should be handled by the National Benzol Association, which was formed under the ægis of the Government, and not only guarantees that all spirit sold is of the standard specification but at the same time is limited as to profits to a low fixed rate per gallon.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
His Majesty's Government are fully alive to the importance of this matter and are prepared to give every encouragement to the production of motor-fuel manufactured in this country. I am aware that the output of benzol is less than it was during the war, and I hope that it will eventually be increased, though I doubt whether it could ever supply the whole of our demand for motor spirit. The question of the agencies by which it is put on to the market is hardly one in which the Government can interfere.
§ Sir H. BRITTAIN
Can the right hon. Gentleman see his way to undertake that there shall be a standard specification of benzol sold in this country through whatever agency it may be sold?
§ Mr. BILLING
Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the Government are including petrol in the Profiteering Act?
§ Mr. ATKEY
Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether steps will be taken to control the price of gas oil, which is essential to the production of benzol, and which is now being raised by the importers against the producers of benzol, and can steps be taken to secure supplies of gas oil from within the Empire?