§ 37. Mr. Oakshott
asked the President of the Board of Trade what is the extent of the loss or delay in shipment of Pacific coast softwood bought by timber control through the diversion of shipping for the import of United States coal.
Mr. H. Wilson
Recent demands for shipping have been abnormally heavy in all parts of the world, and it is not possible to estimate to what extent delays in loading Pacific coast timber have been directly attributable to the movement of United States coal.
§ Mr. Oakshott
Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the quantities bought for shipment in December and January were actually shipped in those months, and say whether he expects that the quantity bought for shipment in February will be shipped in February?
The quantities which we hoped would arrive in December and January were not shipped in those months, but I can assure the hon. Member that the shipping arrangements will catch up with that backlog.
§ Colonel Gomme-Duncan
Will not a great waste of shipping take place by having to transfer United States coal into small ships at Rotterdam, instead of bringing it here in large ships, which has never been done before?
§ Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd
Is it not a fact that the lateness and suddenness of the Government's decision to import coal caused the maximum amount of disorganisation?
No, I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree that in addition to the import of coal there have been very heavy demands on shipping for military purposes and also for the movement of grain from the United States to India and Yugoslavia.
§ Colonel Ropner
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that competing demands of various Government Departments, all of which are said to have first priority, have caused absolute chaos in the freight markets of the world?
§ 38. Mr. Oakshott
asked the President of the Board of Trade what he estimates the increased cost of Pacific coast softwood will be through the recent rise in shipping freights.
Mr. H. Wilson
The rise in freights has been a continuous process since last July and future trends may not be in the same direction. It is not possible to translate variations in freight rates into terms of increased cost per standard on shipment over a period. Freight rates for chartering for December-April loading on the Pacific coast average some £8 5s. a standard above those for November, 1950, loading, and some £15 above those for July, 1950, loading.
§ Mr. Oakshott
Is it not a fact that since the right hon. Gentleman's Department concluded their large-scale British Colombian and the American coast contracts all the Pacific freights have gone up, sometimes as much as 100 per cent. above the freights ruling at the time of the contracts?
They have gone up very considerably, but I hope the hon. Member is not suggesting that that it is because we have increased our purchases in Canada—
§ Mr. R. S. Hudson
Is it not a fact that rising freights followed immediately on the disorganisation caused by the sudden decision of the Government to demand ships for the import of coal?