HC Deb 24 April 1947 vol 436 cc1233-4
30. Mr. D. Marshall

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware of the contracts made for export in the Cornish china clay industry; that this foreign exchange will be lost on the present allocation of coal; that the finished production in some cases will be less than half the required output; and, in view of the fact that china clay production is a continuous process, if he will give urgent consideration to raising the allocation of coal to this industry in the interest of the export market.

Mr. Belcher

I am fully aware of he rising export possibilities of china clay, but in present circumstances the first charge on this important raw material industry must be to satisfy the essential needs of its home consumers, who play such a large part in the internal economy of the country as well as in the export trade. I hope, however, that after these essential needs have been met there will be sufficient clay left over to enable the industry at least to retain its more important export markets. For these reasons, and because the process of drying china clay is a continuous one, the coal allocation to this industry has recently been substantially increased, but I regret that the general coal supply situation does not justify any further increase at present.

Mr. Marshall

Is the Minister aware that this industry plays a very vital part in housing and electrical generating plant programmes; and will he reconsider the present allocation which is allowed to this industry, as it is not sufficient?

Mr. Belcher

It has been reconsidered recently as a result of a visit paid to my office by representatives of this trade. However, I regret that it is not possible at the moment to do more than is being done.

Captain John Crowder

Can the hon. Member say if it is possible in the china clay industry to use oil, because I understand it is a most complicated matter to change over from coal to oil? Has the Minister done anything about that?

Mr. Belcher

I am afraid that is a technical question, and a rather different one from that which appears on the Order Paper. If the hon. and gallant Member puts down a Question I will do my best to answer it.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

Can the hon. Member not engage the assistance of some of his right hon. Friends in ensuring that china clay deposits are released from War Office control?