HC Deb 05 February 1948 vol 446 cc1888-9
31. Mr. Keeling

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he will publish in the OFFICIAL REPORT particulars of the quantities of petroleum products supplied by British-controlled companies during 1947 to each country; and if he will state orally whether, before permitting supplies to a country in the sterling area, he inquires whether consumers in that country are either not rationed or enjoy a basic ration.

Mr. Gaitskell

No, Sir. I cannot publish information about trading operations or British-controlled companies which is supplied to my Department confidentially. With regard to the second part of the Question, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I have just given to the hon. Member for Westbury (Mr. Grimston).

Mr. Keeling

Does the Minister think it right that sterling countries, in which everybody can get petrol, should be given a priority over this country where so many people cannot get any at all?

Mr. Gaitskell

It clearly depends on the circumstances. If the countries happen to be supplying a large quantity of gold to the Commonwealth that may well be a good argument.

Mr. Joynson-Hicks

Is not the necessary corollary of the Minister's answer that the British petroleum companies can sell their petroleum products in any other countries they like, whereas that is not so?

Mr. Gaitskell

I did not say that but I said I could not publish information which had been supplied to me confidentially by these companies.

Mr. Nicholson

Will the Minister give an assurance to the House that he will not exercise any influence on the oil companies to discourage them from giving this information?

Mr. Gaitskell