HC Deb 05 December 1939 vol 355 cc416-8
9 and 10. Mr. Stokes

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) whether he is aware that the present demand for tin in the United States of America equals the maximum possible unrestricted production of British Malaya; and whether, as under the international tin control agreement any signatory may apply for permission to increase production beyond the agreed quota, he will explain why this application has not been made, in view of the urgent representations of the consumers in the United States of America that this course should be followed;

(2) whether he is aware that by far the largest quantity of tin, the production and price of which is compulsorily restricted in the British Empire, is sold to and used by neutral countries, especially the United States of America; and whether, with a view to benefiting the British tin industry and the dollar exchange position, he will consider removing restriction on production and decontrolling the price, so that it would assume its normal level?

The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Malcolm MacDonald)

I have been asked to reply. The body responsible for the regulation of the supply of tin is the International Tin Committee. I am satisfied that they are doing what is necessary to meet the real requirements of the market, and that it would not be in the interests of the Colonial Dependencies concerned with the production of tin to take the action advocated by the hon. Member. No request for such action has been made by the Malayan or Nigerian Governments. The question of price control has been, and is, under constant consideration by His Majesty's Government.

Mr. Stokes

Does the Minister consider that it is an advantage to the taxpayers of this country and of industry, and the industry of the British Empire, that tin should be sold at £230 a ton fixed from Malaya while metal bought by foreign intermediaries is sold in the United States at something over £350 a ton?

Mr. MacDonald

That matter is under constant consideration. It was never intended that the fixing of prices should necessarily be permanent.

Mr. Stokes

Do the Government propose to do anything about it?

Mr. MacDonald

If we proposed to do anything about it, it would obviously be foolish to announce beforehand what we were going to do.

Mr. Stokes

Do you propose to do anything?

Mr. De la Bère

Does not the whole thing seem very strange?

11. Mr. Stokes

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether the Dutch were consulted before the maximum price limit for tin was fixed for all tin smelted in the United Kingdom and Malaya; and what was the nature of their reply?

Mr. M. MacDonald

The Dutch representatives on the International Tin Committee were kept informed on this matter.