HC Deb 27 July 1950 vol 478 cc658-9
4. Mr. Wakefield

asked the President of the Board of Trade what were the stocks of softwood in this country on 30th June, 1949, and the 30th June, 1950, respectively.

The President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Harold Wilson)

Stocks of softwood, excluding sleepers and poles, were 206,000 standards at 30th June, 1949. Returns from merchants for June, 1950, have not yet been collated, but I estimate that stocks at the 30th June were about 170,000 standards. Softwood stocks are, of course, always at their lowest at the end of June and as the result of an increasing flow of imports the normal seasonal improvement has now started.

Mr. Wakefield

Can the right hon. Gentleman say to what cause he attributes this decline in stocks?

Mr. Wilson

Yes, Sir; I have explained on a number of occasions that this decline compared with a year ago is one of availability of dollars for buying from Canada last winter—[HON. MEMBERS: "What about Sweden?"] I have already made it clear that purchases from Sweden do not affect this year's stocks, but that supplies will be available for the coming year.

6. Mr. Hurd

asked the President of the Board of Trade how the price, c.i.f., of the Soviet softwood which has arrived in this country compares with the price of £55 10s. per standard, c.i.f., United Kingdom ports, paid recently to Sweden.

Mr. H. Wilson

No softwood out of our recent contract with the Soviet supplies has as yet arrived. The first five cargoes, however, are expected within the next week. Their average basis c.i.f. price will be less than £55 10s. per standard.

Mr. Hurd

Does that apply to Russian timber shipped from the White Sea ports?

Mr. Wilson

The Question related to the timber which has arrived in the United Kingdom. None as yet has arrived. The cargoes expected this week are not all coming from the White Sea ports.

Mr. Oakshott

Is not it a fact that freights of £8 10s. a standard and more have been paid for Russian timber, which will bring the cost up to at least as high as Swedish timber, if not higher?

Mr. Wilson

That is a question relating to timber which has already arrived, and the answer relates to timber which is arriving during the next few days. If the hon. Member requires information about other cargoes I shall be very glad to give him an answer.

Mr. Godfrey Nicholson

Can the right hon. Gentleman circulate a list of the ports from which this timber will be shipped?

Mr. Wilson

If the hon. Member will put down a Question I will see that he receives an answer.