HC Deb 22 February 1951 vol 484 cc1434-6
14. Mr. M. Philips Price

asked the President of the Board of Trade what steps he proposes to take to secure the chartering of sufficient tonnage to bring softwood timber purchased overseas to this country, in view of the continuous reduction of stocks.

Mr. H. Wilson

Tonnage has already been chartered for nearly all the North American softwood available for shipment to arrive in this country by the end of June. A considerable amount of chartering has also been done for later shipments. Chartering for privately imported softwood is the responsibility of the shippers or importers concerned.

Mr. Price

Could my right hon. Friend say how many standards of softwood timber there are still abroad, unshipped?

Mr. Wilson

Not without notice.

Mr. R. S. Hudson

Has the right hon. Gentleman's attention been called to the report of the Chamber of Shipping about the chaos caused to the freight market by the action of his bulk buying department?

Mr. Wilson

Yes, Sir, and in the case of a number of those reports, we do not always accept them at their face value.

Mr. John E. Haire

Will my right hon. Friend do what he can to see that freight charges for softwood timber are kept at a reasonably low level?

Mr. Nabarro

Stop buying in bulk.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

Is it not a fact that much urgently needed timber has not been shipped because the Government have commandeered shipping space, which would have been available for the carriage of timber, and which is now being used for freighting coal instead?

Mr. Wilson

As I made clear a week ago, timber was delayed by a number of calls upon the freight market, of which one, undoubtedly, was coal, and another Russian grain.

16. Mr. Vane

asked the President of the Board of Trade how the volume and price of mining timber imported into this country in the second half of 1950 compares with the volume and price of similar timber imported in the second half of 1949.

Mr. H. Wilson

One million, one hundred and five thousand tons of mining timber valued at £8.1 million were imported in the second half of 1949, compared with 721,000 tons valued at £4.9 million in the same period of 1950. The average value per ton for imports as recorded in the Trade Accounts was £7.3 in July—December, 1949, and £6.8 in the last half of 1950.