HC Deb 12 November 1929 vol 231 cc1691-2

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether his attention has been called to the placing of large orders for foreign timber for the construction of railway wagons where formerly British oak was used; and whether, in carrying out the policy of gradual replacement of railway wagons with others of 12 and 20 tons capacity, any financial assistance from the Government will be conditional on British steel and British timber alone being used?


I am aware that foreign timber is sometimes used in the construction of railway wagons, but from inquiries which I have made, I understand that the Railway Companies endeavour to use home-grown timber so far as there are available supplies of suitable quality. In reply to the second part of the question, all materials required for or used in connection with assisted schemes under the Development (Loans, Guarantees and Grants) Act, 1929, are required to be of British origin and all manufactered articles of British manufacture. This requirement is subject only to such exceptions as the Department concerned, having regard to all the circumstances, may find to be necessary or desirable in any particular case.


Does the requirement that the manufactured article should be of British origin cover home-grown timber which has undergone only a preliminary form of manufacture?


Yes, it covers that. I go beyond that, and say that, in the instructions which I have given, I have made it perfectly clear that I want to encourage British industry; but I have to put in a safeguard, which already, unfortunately, my experience justifies, protecting public money against a ring of manufacturers who take advantage of it.


In considering the advisability of developing Toads, will the right hon. Gentleman think of British tar for British roads?


Yes, and, if I may judge from the representations which have been made to me by the industry, of which my hon. Friend is such a distinguished member, I am not likely to forget it.


Will the right hon. Gentleman put himself in touch with the home-grown timber trade to see what can be done to help what he has in mind?


I may avail myself of this opportunity to say that there is no industry, large or small, with which I am not in touch discussing this question from the standpoint of British material, and in order to see how the British standards of labour affect the particular problem.