HC Deb 13 February 1947 vol 433 cc534-5
78. Mr. Osborne

asked the President of the Board of Trade what was the cost of tobacco imports to the United Kingdom for 1936 and 1946, respectively; and the weight and value from each of the principal exporting countries for both years.

Sir S. Cripps

The value of imports of tobacco was £18.5 million in 1936 and £65.6 million in 1946. With the hon. Member's permission, I will circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT information as to the principal sources.

Mr. Osborne

Could I ask the Minister if he does not think it would be wise to use a few more scarce dollars to buy fats rather than tobacco?

Sir S. Cripps

That is a matter of opinion.

Mr. Mikardo

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that there is a considerable supply of tobacco available in the Indonesian Republic if only we could stop the Dutch blockading the ports and preventing the free access of our ships?

Dr. Taylor

Does my right hon. and learned Friend not think that there is a good case for tobacco rationing, and will he. look into the matter as a possible alternative to sweet coupons?

Following are the principal sources tobacco:

Anglo-Iranian Oil Company; and what proportion of the total fuel oil imported into Great Britain does this quantity represent.

The Minister of Fuel and Power (Mr. Shinwell)

According to The Trade and Navigation Accounts, which combine fuel oil and Diesel oil, the quantities of these two products imported into the United Kingdom during the last three months of 1946, amounted to 341,468,000 gallons, of which about 50 per cent, was purchased from the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company.

Mr. Stokes

May I ask my right hon. Friend why it is not possible to buy more from the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company and thus make more oil available in this country, and, at the same time, spend less dollars?

Mr. Shinwell

Because we export from the Iranian oilfield a large amount of oil to dollar sources.

Mr. Stokes

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the production capacity if the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company could be enormously increased, and could, in fact, supply all our demands?

Mr. Shinwell

So it could, but we export oil from that area to dollar currency countries.

Mr. Erroll

Does not the Minister realise that, among industrialists, there is great uncertainty about fuel oil because of the evasive nature of his answers?

Mr. Shinwell

That has nothing to do with fuel oil at all. There is quite a large amount of fuel oil in this country, and if industrialists wish to convert to oil they can do so.