HC Deb 11 July 1950 vol 477 cc1151-3
66. Mr. W. Robson-Brown

asked the President of the Board of Trade what proportion of softwood recently bought from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is suitable for house building.

Mr. Bottomley

Our timber purchases from all sources are balanced to suit the many purposes for which softwood is needed in this country. A very high proportion of Russian timber is bought for housing and almost all of it could be used for this purpose.

Mr. Osborne

Is not it a fact that we have not obtained as much timber from Russia as we might owing to the bungling of our buying by the Minister's Department?

Mr. Robson-Brown

Is not it a fact that the percentage of softwood in the purchases from Russia is only 20 per cent. and if that is so, or if the figure is anywhere near that amount, will not there be a timber shortage of softwood for house building at the height of the building season?

Mr. Bottomley

The percentage given is not true.

Captain Crookshank

What is it then?

Mr. Bottomley

I gave it in my answer.

67. Mr. Robson-Brown

asked the President of the Board of Trade what quantities of softwood have been purchased from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and from other countries from 1st May; at what rate can deliveries be expected into this country; and how the prices paid compare with the prices ruling last November.

Mr. Bottomley

On our softwood contract position generally, on prices and on our Russian purchases, I would refer the hon. Member to the replies given to the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes (Major Beamish) on 3rd and 6th July. Deliveries will follow the normal course of a rise during the autumn months, and arrivals should reach their peak in September.

Mr. Robson-Brown

Is not the Minister aware that there are figures available in the trade Press showing that there is a definite increase in the price paid for the timber purchases from Russia, and is it not time that the bulk buying of timber was ended and the responsibility handed back to the trade, who understand the job?

Mr. Drayson

Can the Minister say to what extent the timber purchased from Russia has in fact come from Finland by way of reparations to Russia, and would it not be better to buy the timber from Finland direct?

Mr. Bottomley

That is another question.

Mr. Duncan Sandys

In view of the disquiet that there is throughout the building industry about the shortage of timber holding up important housing contracts, and in view of the failure of the Government to give any adequate reply to the Question, will the hon. Gentleman, or his right hon. Friend, consider making a full statement on the timber position in the very near future?

Mr. Bottomley

It is not true to say that the shortage of timber is holding up the building of houses.