HC Deb 27 March 1947 vol 435 cc1391-2
65. Mr. Collins

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that the Newsprint Supply Company's Rationing Committee has decided not to restore pre-crisis paging to the large provincial newspapers, although this concession has been granted to the national and provincial daily and evening papers; and, in view of this discrimination, if he will take steps to ensure that the supply company accord equality of treatment for all newspapers.

42. Mr. Thomas Brooks

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will remove the cuts recently made in the size of local weekly newspapers on account of the fuel crisis, since a similar restriction has been lifted from the daily and evening newspapers and the weekly newspapers are read by a large public for their local news.

Sir S. Cripps

I would refer my hon. Friends to the reply given on 24th March to the hon. Member for The High Peak (Mr. Molson). The basis on which newspapers are rationed has been revised in order to simplify the position and remove certain anomalies which existed.

Mr. Collins

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that this desire to remove anomalies has created fresh anomalies whereby the pre-crisis cuts which have been restored to the large daily national and provincial newspapers and some of the smaller weekly newspapers at higher prices have been denied to the larger weekly newspapers, with consequent extreme inconvenience to agriculture and farmers and contrary to strict justice? Will he please have a look at it again?

Sir S. Cripps

I have examined this matter with Lord Layton, and the position is that certain preferential treatment which some of the papers enjoyed before has been taken from them to make it more uniform over all the papers.

Mr. Benn Levy

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that the use of the local weekly newspaper is different from, and as important as, national newspapers?. Is not this really discrimination against them?

Sir S. Cripps

Provincial newspapers are now getting a much higher proportion of their prewar amount than other national newspapers.

Earl Winterton

Is it not a tact that the reason why there is no newsprint available and there is a scarcity in this country is due to the Government's refusal to allow money to be spent in buying from the large amount of newsprint which is available elsewhere in the world?

Sir S. Cripps

The question here is not the amount available but the proportion available.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

What is the position of those excellent local papers which appear two or three times a week and which on present allocations seem to have fallen between two stools?

Sir S. Cripps

I am afraid I cannot say in these precise cases, because I am not aware what the position is.

Mr. Nicholson

Is it just to draw a parallel between the national newspaper and the small local paper appearing once a week which derives most of its revenue from advertising and consequently is obliged to shut out most of its local news if it is to survive at all?

Sir S. Cripps

Obviously different considerations apply to them and that is why they get a different supply of paper.

Mr. Collins

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply I propose to raise the matter on the Adjournment at the earliest possible moment.