HC Deb 26 February 1935 vol 298 cc933-4
25. Mr. BOSSOM

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether the temporary commercial agreement with Russia precludes the Government from limiting the amount of Russian timber imported into the United Kingdom, as was done last year, in order to enable Canada to increase her timber sales in this market?


No, Sir. Article 1 of the Temporary Commercial Agreement with Russia provides that each party will accord most-favoured-nation treatment to the goods of the other, but Article 2 provides that, in certain circumstances, this treatment may be withdrawn in respect of particular classes of commodities.

26. Mr. BOSSOM

asked the President of the Board of Trade, in view of the fact that the fall clause in the timber contract now being negotiated with Russia frustrates the benefits arranged in the Ottawa Agreements, whether he will reconsider the Agreements?


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he can now give particulars to the House of the communication which he has received from the Canadian Government with reference to the importation into Great Britain of Russian timber under a fall clause, and at prices with which it is impossible for Canada to compete; and what action is being taken by the British Government, in view of the fact that this is in contravention of Article 21 of the Ottawa Agreement?

33. Major-General Sir ALFRED KNOX

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has yet come to any decision regarding the proposed contract for the import of Russian timber in the current year by Timber Distributors, Limited; whether the quantity imported will be reduced from that imported in 1924; and whether the fall clause will be prohibited as in last year's contract?


As I have already informed the House, the questions raised by the contract between Timber Distributors, Limited, and the White Sea Timber Trust are at present receiving careful consideration. I will make a statement to the House at the earliest possible moment, but I fear I am not yet in a position to say when that will be.


Can my right hon. Friend not say at once that the fall clause makes any preferences given under the Ottawa or any other agreement nugatory, and surely the Government can make up their mind at once and tell the House that the fall clause will not be allowed in contracts of this kind?


The fall clause, I think, was eliminated from contracts last year. That is one of the points now under discussion.


In considering this contract, will the right hon. Gentleman take into consideration the fact that the Canadian mills are now working only 50 per cent. of their capacity and that the timber market in this country is considerably overstocked as compared with last year; also that Canada takes £19,500,000 of our exports and Russia only £3,500,000?


We will take all the facts that are relevant into consideration.


Does the right hon. Gentleman think the Russian soft timber comes into serious conflict with the Canadian soft timber?

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