HC Deb 26 January 1944 vol 396 c688
51. Sir A. Knox

asked the Minister of Supply whether he can arrange for a resumption of the import of esparto grass from North Africa.

52. Mr. Storey

asked the Minister of Supply whether he has considered the memorandum submitted to His Majesty's Government by associations interested in the esparto papermaking industry; and whether he proposes to take any steps to ensure the resumption of shipments of esparto grass at the earliest possible date.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Supply (Mr. Peat)

The memorandum referred to in the second Question has been considered. I find, after consultation with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Production, that it is not possible at the present time to resume shipments of esparto grass. The considerations brought forward in the memorandum will be borne in mind whenever it becomes possible to expand our imports.

Mr. Mathers

Is esparto grass not considered as important as some of the other things to which shipping is being devoted at present?

Mr. Peat

No, Sir. We are able to substitute another material for esparto grass.

Mr. Pethick-Lawrence

May we take it that the opportunity of importing esparto grass will be considered by the Government, and that it will be given an early priority when the appropriate time comes?

Mr. Peat

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Storey

Is my hon. Friend aware that the substitute material is a very inferior one; that esparto paper is a monopoly of the British trade, and that a small import leads to a big export? Will he take the earliest opportunity to renew that import?

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