HC Deb 07 July 1948 vol 453 cc367-8
37. Brigadier Rayner

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what progress has been made in the rehabilitation of the rubber and tin industries of Malaya during the past two years; and to what extent delays in supplying the necessary equipment in this connection have been overcome.

Mr. Rees-Williams

Owing largely to the fine efforts of the planters and small-holders in Malaya, the physical recovery of the rubber industry from the effects of the war is now virtually complete. Production in 1947 was nearly 100,000 tons above the 1940 level.

Satisfactory progress has also been made with the rehabilitation of the tin industry, but in the nature of things the rehabilitation of an industry dependent on heavy engineering equipment must inevitably be rather slow. The physical damage suffered by the mines during the Japanese occupation was severe and the shortage of steel and the delay in the delivery of electrical machinery continue to hold up full recovery. I understand that all the hydraulic mines are working again; that there are now 65 dredges in operation as compared with 100 in use before the war; and that over 50 per cent. of the Chinese industry is working again mostly with gravel pump mines. If the present progress is maintained rehabilitation should be substantially completed by about the end of next year.

Brigadier Rayner

Leading on from there, is the Minister quite satisfied that the steel allocation for both these industries in Malaya is a perfectly fair one; and, secondly, does he appreciate that neither of these industries is able to rehabilitate itself completely out of its own resources?

Mr. Rees-Williams

In reply to the first part of the question, they will certainly have the highest possible priority with regard to steel. There is no question about that. In regard to the second part, with the present prices, particularly in tin, they should be able to rehabilitate themselves very largely out of their own resources.

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