§ 27. Mr. Philips Price
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that pit-props from abroad are being paid for at a higher price than home-grown pit-props; and what is the reason for this.
§ Mr. H. Wilson
Yes, Sir. It is estimated that on the average the cost of imported pit-props is about 50 per cent. more than corresponding home-grown mining-timber, quality for quality. Prices of homegrown timber are controlled at a level which is intended to give the landowner and timber merchant a reasonable return, while prices of imported timber are governed by other considerations.
§ Mr. Philips Price
Is there any reason why there should be this difference between imported and home-grown prices? Surely the quality is the same?
§ Mr. Wilson
The prices we have to pay for imported timber are determined by the world market. There is inflation of world prices for timber today, and there is no reason why our own timber merchants should cash in.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the present controlled price of timber for pit props does not meet the cost of preparation, and that if the price schedule were reviewed objectively, it would be found possible greatly to increase the supply of home-grown pit props without putting any undeserved money into the pockets of the landowners or of the timber merchants, as well as at the same time effecting a saving in dollars?
§ Mr. Wilson
No, Sir, I am not aware of that. The growing prices were increased by 25 per cent. last year, and a corresponding increase was made in the price of timber. I have every reason to believe that it does cover the cost.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the 25 per cent. is not sufficient, particularly since the cost of labour, which is the main cost, has risen approximately by 100 per cent.? Is he further aware that all this is set out in an admirable paper which was brought out recently, written by the hon. Member for Accrington (Mr. Scott-Elliot), a copy of which has been sent to him?