HC Deb 13 April 1948 vol 449 cc791-2
47. Sir Waldron Smithers

asked the Economic Secretary to the Treasury how many standards of softwood timber were allocated to each industry in 1946 and 1947 by inter-departmental agreement and through the timber licensing machinery.

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Douglas Jay)

Allocations of softwood, as agreed inter-departmentally, are made to Departments, not to industries. It is not the practice to give details of such allocations, or of the quantities subsequently licensed to consumers in particular industries through the timber licensing machinery.

48. Sir W. Smithers

asked the Economic Secretary to the Treasury if he will immediately increase the present allocation of timber to the building industry from the present abnormal stocks held; or, give a statement of the proposed allocation of these stocks to the various industries consuming timber together with the proposed level of monthly imports and their allocation likewise during 1948.

Mr. Jay

In reply to the first part of this Question, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to him by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health on 18th March. With regard to the second part, as this is the normal season for negotiating the purchase of softwood from the European supplying countries, it is difficult to give even an approximate forecast of monthly imports in 1948. The hon. Member may be interested to read the article on supplies and stocks in the Board of Trade Journal of 21st February, 1948. On the matter of allocations, I would refer to my answer to the last Question.

Sir W. Smithers

Arising out of my previous Question, why will the hon. Gentleman not publish the figures? Is it to cover up the mistakes of the Government? Is he aware that the Government's system of licensing timber is all wrong and that by concentrating upon the allocations to non-traditional temporary houses he is removing the possibility of building permanent brick houses, which require much less steel and timber?

Mr. Jay

In reply to the first part of that supplementary question, the figures affecting individual industries are, where necessary, given. The inter-departmental figures are part of the ordinary internal working of the Government, and it never has been the practice to publish such material. With regard to the second part of the hon. Member's supplementary question, we are very well aware of the facts he mentions.