HC Deb 17 July 1940 vol 363 cc217-8
63. Mr. Woodburn

asked the Minister of Supply whether his attention has been called to the unnecessary profiteering by middlemen which is forced on Edinburgh and other salvage collecting municipalities, since these are prohibited from sending their salvage direct to furnaces, paper mills, etc., and are compelled to sell to merchants who are collecting 12s. 6d. per ton profit on paper which they never see; whether he is aware that the metal merchants are in some cases hoarding the scrap to profiteer on future rises in prices: and whether he will take steps to authorise Edinburgh and other cities to sell their material in bulk direct to the consuming firms?

Mr. H. Morrison

Many paper mills are licensed to acquire waste paper direct from local authorities, and I understand that, while certain mills are licensed to buy from the Edinburgh Corporation, the corporation also sells to merchants. The work of sorting and preparation of paper for remanufacture which is done by merchants is of value in securing the most economical use of the paper, but I shall be ready to consider any case in which the merchant is not in fact handling the material. As regards the last part of the Question, I have no objection to local authorities disposing of their scrap metal direct to consumers, but I am informed that the services of merchants are often useful in sorting and grading the scrap efficiently.

Mr. Woodburn

Will the Minister take steps to remove any prohibition that exists, so that a corporation which is able to do the work efficiently itself is able to deal with consumers directly and not through intermediaries?

Mr. Morrison

In view of the last part of my answer local authorities ought now to be aware that that aspect of the matter can be favourably considered, but I will look into the point.

Sir Frank Sanderson

Is it not a fact that profiteering is not possible when there is an Excess Profits Tax of 100 per cent.?

Mr. R. C. Morrison

Will the right hon. Gentleman keep in mind, when he is having any negotiations with the Scrap Metal Association, that they are the gentlemen who sold the scrap to Germany before the war?

Mr. H. Morrison

I agree that some did, but some did not, as I understand it. I will keep that point in mind.