HC Deb 08 April 1937 vol 322 cc359-61
87. Mr. Dingle Foot

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether his attention has been called to the action of the British Sugar Corporation placing a large order for jute goods manufactured in Calcutta; and whether, in view of the prevailing unemployment in the United Kingdom jute industry, he will represent to the corporation the desirability of purchasing jute goods manufactured in the United Kingdom?

Mr. W. S. Morrison

Under the Sugar Industry (Reorganisation) Act, 1936, the Sugar Commission are empowered to control the purchase by the British Sugar Corporation of material not wholly manufactured in the United Kingdom. I am informed that in view of the disparity between the quotations which the corporation received from United Kingdom and Calcutta manufacturers respectively, for beet pulp bags for the forthcoming campaign, the Commission did not feel that they would be justified in requiring the corporation to purchase these particular bags from United Kingdom sources. In the case of sugar bags, however, I understand that the corporation have decided to place the whole of their orders in the United Kingdom and they are prepared to place the balance of their orders for pulp bags in this country if the gap between the two quotations can be substantially reduced.

Mr. Foot

Are we to understand, with regard to the last part of the question, that the Minister is making no further representation on this subject to the Commission?

Mr. Morrison

Under the Act which was passed as recently as last year Parliament gave complete discretion in this matter to the Commission. I have no power under the Act, to which I am as subject as the Commission, to intervene.

Miss Horsbrugh

If the Corporation are willing to place the balance of the order with the United Kingdom trade, if the difference in price be closed up by the United Kingdom trade, why did the Corporation not ask the United Kingdom trade if they could quote a lower price and inform them that the order was being, or had been, sent to Calcutta?

Mr. Morrison

It is implicit in the answer which I gave that quotations had been received from both sources. If the hon. Lady has any particular information in regard to this matter she must communicate it to the Commission. If she cares to send it to me, I will see that it reaches them.