HC Deb 15 November 1939 vol 353 cc713-4
62 and 63. Mr. A. Jenkins

asked the Minister of Supply (1) the authorised increase in price of home-grown pit-wood; and also the increase in price of pit-wood supplied by the Forestry Commission;

(2) the reasons that were accepted by him as justifying the increase in price charged by the Forestry Commissioners for home-grown pit-wood?

Mr. Burgin

There is no schedule of authorised increases but maximum prices have been fixed for home-grown pit-wood as set out in the Control of Timber (No. 1) Order. As regards the rest of the question. I am afraid I can add little to the reply given to the hon. Member on 24th October. Normally only a comparatively small quantity of home-grown pit-wood is purchased by the mines in South Wales and this from nearby sources. Supplies from abroad constitute the normal supply to these mines but it has been thought prudent to make arrangements to provide home-grown timber. This has to be cut and brought from distant woods and the cost is bound to be much higher.

Mr. Jenkins

Is it not a fact that homegrown supplies of timber were purchased in South Wales at about 28s. per ton, whereas the price fixed by the Forestry Commission is about 55s.? What is the reason for the difference?

Mr. Burgin

I may say that a deputation of coalowners waited on me and were delighted at the prospect of getting 50,000 tons of home-grown timber, and raised no difficulty about price. The reason for the difference is the fact that the nearby sources of home-grown timber have been cut. The timber for South Wales is coming from the New Forest and Kent and districts far afield, and the price may be even over 55s.

Mr. David Grenfell

Is it not the case that, included in this price, there may be a freight charge of 25s. a ton?

Mr. T. Smith

In view of the fact that pit timber plays an important part in the ascertainment, may I ask how this maximum price of home-grown wood compares with imported wood?

Mr. Burgin

At present, when there are difficulties in obtaining timber, it is a question of looking for wood wherever we can. The South Wales collieries normally receive their timber from France in return for export coal, and I have great hopes that that transaction can be continued on an even larger scale than usual.