HC Deb 11 November 1948 vol 457 cc1734-5

The following' Question stood upon the Order Paper in the name of Lieut.-Commander CLARK HUTCHISON:

40. To ask the President of the Board of Trade if, in order to ensure that the public have the fullest possible access to news at this critical time, he will increase the allocation of newsprint to the daily newspapers.

At the end of Questions—

Mr. H. Wilson

With your permission, Mr. Speaker, I should like to answer Question No. 40 now.

I am glad to say that the home production of newsprint, which was severely curtailed at the beginning of this year owing to shortage of pulp, has now been substantially increased, and some further improvement is expected in 1949. As I have previously informed the House, it has always been our objective to allow an increase in consumption as soon as the supply position permitted. I have recently reviewed the position with the newspaper proprietors and I am now able to announce that from the beginning of next year newsprint consumption will revert to the position which existed prior to the cut which was introduced in the summer of 1947. This will enable the ld. national dailies which are at present four pages to revert to an average size of five pages per day, with appropriate increases in the case of other national and provincial daily papers and also weekly newspapers. In addition, it is now possible for us to remove the restrictions on freedom of circulation, so that members of the public will, from the beginning of the year, again be able to buy the newspapers of their choice.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

Will the right hon. Gentleman not lose heart and remember that British newspapers had 24 pages before the war?

Mr. Collins

Can my right hon. Friend say whether this increased size of newspapers will be based on British newsprint, or will it involve the increased importation of Canadian newsprint?

Mr. Wilson

This increase has been made possible entirely by the fact that the production of newsprint in this country from imported pulp has increased so remarkably this year.

Mr. Levy

Is the increase in supply all devoted to newspapers and none of it to books?

Mr. Wilson

This newsprint is, of course, not of a kind appropriate for books. The limitations on book production at the present time are not at all caused by paper shortage but by shortages of book printing and book binding capacity.