HC Deb 06 March 1947 vol 434 cc648-9
55 and 56. Mr. Osborne

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if, in view of the scarcity of U.S. dollars and the need to spend our limited resources on food, raw materials and machinery, he will now prohibit altogether the importation of U.S. tobacco and substitute supplies from non-dollar sources;

(2) in view of the extra drain on our dollar resources arising from the coal crisis, what steps he is now taking to appeal to the country to economise, especially on tobacco, and to get all the resources of the Government behind the appeal.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Dalton)

I would refer the hon. Member to my reply given to the hon. Member for East Ealing (Sir F. Sanderson) on 4th February.

Mr. Osborne

In view of the fact that we are consuming about 23 million pounds weight of tobacco per month, as against 13 million pounds average in 1935, and in view of the fact that we shall not have dollars for American food and tobacco, will the right hon. Gentleman make it clear to the country that we have to choose between one or the other?

Mr. Dalton

The question of tobacco imports is primarily one for the Board of Trade because import licences are required. I further refer the hon. Member to a reply given by the Secretary for Overseas Trade on 4th March to two Questions put down by my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Levy) on the same subject.

Mr. Stokes

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that the Greeks and the Turks are very anxious to send tobacco here in exchange for goods, and also that this is purely a matter of taste, and no self-respecting American ever smokes a Virginian cigarette?

Mr. Beechman

Is it not better to take petrol off the ration, than to import garish American films?

Mr. Mikardo

Has my right hon. Friend's attention been directed to the possibility of using the personal points ration for tobacco or sweets indiscriminately, and, in addition, selling soft currency tobacco off the ration?

Mr. Dalton

That is a matter for another Department.

Mr. Henry Strauss

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that the bilge of Hollywood can neither be eaten nor smoked?