HC Deb 13 February 1947 vol 433 c530
67. Mr. Thurtle

asked the President of the Board of Trade why it is his intention to import a large quantity of furniture from Italy; if he is aware that such furniture could be manufactured in Britain if the timber was made available; that considerable numbers of furniture makers are already unemployed or working short time; arid if any attempt was made to import timber from Italy rather than the manufactured articles.

Sir S. Cripps

Imports of furniture from Italy as from other countries are intended to help meet the pressing needs of the public. The answer to the second and third parts of the Question is "Yes, Sir," but for the reasons indicated in the answer given to the hon. Member for Darwen (Mr. Prescott) on Tuesday I cannot accept the suggestion that these imports prejudice the position of our own industry. The answer to the last part of the Question is that Italy is an importer of softwood and utility hardwoods and has no surplus for export. We are however buying plywood in Italy and the furniture was bought in addition to and not instead of plywood.

Mr. J. Lewis

Is it not a fact that many countries are not prepared to sell timber, but are only prepared to sell manufactured furniture?

Sir S. Cripps

That is perfectly true; they wish to provide employment for their own people.