§ 4.18 p.m.
§ Mr. Baker White (Canterbury)
It is my purpose this afternoon to draw attention to certain serious shortages in the materials that are necessary for the preservation and transport and packaging of food. Those materials are tinplate, horticultural cardboard used for making nonreturnable containers, and lids for returnable containers, lead foil and waxed paper. It is my belief the responsibility for these shortages rests fairly and squarely upon the Government. If there had been a little thinking ahead, they need not have arisen.
I must apologise for inflicting a few figures on the Committee. In 1949 our total production of tinplate was 664,000 tons. Exports totalled over 194,000 tons, leaving over 469,000 tons for the home market. In 1950 production rose to 690,000 tons and exports rose to over 247,000 tons, leaving over 442,000 tons for the home market. In other words, the home market received a smaller allocation of tinplate on a higher production. I do not know the total amount allocated to all food canning purposes because the figures given by the Minister of Food are contradictory. I have no doubt that the right hon. Gentleman when he replies will clear up the discrepancy.
According to a written answer he gave to a Question on 1st May, 1950, fruit and vegetable canning received 82,000 tons in 1949 and about 80,000 tons in 1950. He said:The figure of 80,000 tons which I have mentioned for 1950 is much below the quantity requested, but I am afraid it is all we can spare as supplies are just now."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd May, 1950; Vol. 474, c. 159.]In the same reply, he also said that the 1949 allocation was fully taken up. On 7th December, 1950, in a written answer, his Parliamentary Secretary said that about 64,000 tons of tinplate was used for canning home-grown fruit and vegetables in 1949, and 57,000 tons would probably be used in 1950.
It will be seen that there is a discrepancy of 18,000 and 23,000 tons respectively between those two sets of figures. It is clear that the quantity of tinplate available for home-grown fruit and vegetables was about 7,000 tons less in 1950 1937 than it was in 1949. We know for certain that home food canning as a whole had less tinplate in 1950 than in 1949 and that the allocation for all food canning in the first quarter of 1951 was 20 per cent. below that for the same period of 1950.
My calculation is that, broadly speaking, this means that for every 100 tons of food put into tins in the first quarter of 1949, only about 64 tons will be put into tins in the first quarter of this year. As a result, several canning factories have had to close down for the time being. Others are working on short time. The last thing we were told was that in the second, third and fourth quarters of 1951, allocations for food canning are likely to be—and I quote the right hon. Gentleman's words:greater than originally planned but not up to the 1949 level."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th January, 1951; Vol. 483, c. 74.]While the allocation to our own food canners has been cut down, up to the present there has been no reduction in exports. They have increased, especially to the Argentine. The Argentine received 16,043 tons in 1949 and 32,519 in 1950.
Now, at the last moment, exports are to be cut to help the home producer. The question I want to put is this: when are they to be cut and by how much? I put this question because, on 15th February, my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Mr. Boothby) asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, because of the acute shortage of tinplate at home, he would restrict exports of tinplate in certain directions. The right hon. Gentleman replied:I am sure the hon. Member will be glad to know that an appreciable proportion of the amount going to export has now been diverted to the home market.I emphasise the words "an appreciable proportion" and "has now been diverted." In reply to a further question put by my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, South (Lady Tweedsmuir), the President of the Board of Trade said:I am well aware that there is a general shortage of tinplate at present, and this is likely to go on for another few months. While this is likely to continue, we have cut down exports quite sharply.In reply to yet another question, put this time by my hon. and gallant Friend the 1938 Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Colonel Gomme-Duncan), the Minister repeated:We have made reductions in the export of tinplate."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th February, 1951; Vol. 484, c. 599.]I want to emphasise that he twice reiterated the statement and that he used the past tense.
But what are the facts? According to the Trade and Navigation Accounts for the month ended 31st January, 1951, we exported that month 25,528 tons of tinplate. In December, 1950, we exported 20,523 tons. In November the figure was 21,413 tons, and in October 18,894 tons. These figures appear to be a flat contradiction of the right hon. Gentleman's statement thatan appreciable proportion of the amount going to export has now been diverted to the home market.In fact, exports of tinplate in January increased by 5,000 tons as compared with the previous month and by over 4,000 tons compared with November.
I hope and I believe that we shall be given an explanation of these discrepancies. The answer may well be that the cuts in exports were not made until February. If that is so, it would be interesting and valuable to know what the right hon. Gentleman meant by his phrase "an appreciable proportion" and by the other phrase "quite sharply." Does it mean a cut of 8,000 to 10,000 tons a month or something like that? I think we should have the figures and should be told when the cuts started. I put this question: Is it not a fact that what the President of the Board of Trade called "an appreciable proportion" is really a cut of about 1 per cent. in the first quarter of the year and a cut of a further 3 per cent. in the remaining quarters? I have no official information but that is my calculation, from what industry as a whole have been told.
This shortage of tinplate has created a feeling of uncertainty throughout the whole great horticultural industry. It is made all the worse by the fact that it comes at the end of two difficult years. I often wonder whether the Government realise that fruit and vegetable growers must plan their cropping months ahead and that when they embark upon the considerable expenditure involved in it they must have some certainty that they 1939 will be able to sell their crops. There is no such certainty today, at any rate for the large-scale growers of peas for canning. There is anger in the industry about the way it has been treated. The Minister of Agriculture and other Ministers continually appeal to the industry to increase its production of food. I must warn them that one more bad season and a large number of small horticultural growers will be driven out of business altogether.
That brings me to another shortage—that of horticultural cardboard. Since the war foreign importers have been able to enjoy the advantage of using non-returnable wooden containers which were not available to our own people. We realised why they were not available. But our people have worked out a very useful and very effective substitute by using a non-returnable cardboard container and by using a cardboard top for the wooden bushel and half-bushel returnable boxes.
What has happened? Having got well into their stride and having in many cases installed special and very expensive packing machinery, they have now been told that there is to be a drastic cut in supplies of cardboard. To take one example, a firm which manufactures three-quarters of the country's output of 12-lb. cardboard baskets had a target of six million of these 12-lb. baskets for 1951. They will be very lucky if they can produce four-and-a-half million.
With regard to the general situation, I cannot do better than read a letter sent a few days ago to one of the biggest fruit growers in Kent. It says:With reference to supplies of returnable bushel and half-bushel box covers, we are very sorry to inform you that it will not be possible for us to manufacture these in 1951. As you are aware, the supply position of cardboard has deteriorated steadily for some months, and it has now reached the critical stage where we have been forced to suspend the manufacture of many of our horticultural lines, including 4-lb. and 6-lb. baskets.Why has this shortage arisen? It has arisen because the Government have failed to pursue a sensible, vigorous and continuous policy over the collection of waste paper, which is the raw material from which this cardboard is made. I can put the waste paper position very shortly indeed. The present rate of waste paper 1940 collection is about 800,000 tons a year; the consumption is already up to the 900,000 ton mark, and the needs of defence will probably put it up to the million ton mark before the end of this year. Until recently the deficit has been made up by using accumulated supplies. Now these are gone. My belief is that there is now less than four weeks' supply of waste paper available in the country.
There is another shortage to which I must refer briefly. The matter was raised on 13th February at Question Time by my hon. Friend the Member for Abingdon (Sir R. Glyn). It is the shortage of oiled paper wraps used for the storage of apples in gas chambers. Time and time again since 1945 the Minister of Agriculture has urged upon British fruit growers the necessity of improving the quality of their products and particularly the standard of presentation to the consumers. The horticultural industry has done everything it can to comply with that request, but what is the good of the Minister's asking the growers to improve presentation—to raise the quality of the presentation—when other Ministries are cutting down the supplies of the very materials they want to achieve that end?
§ Mr. White
There is another aspect of the tinplate shortage to which I must refer—the shortage of biscuit tins. Manufacturers say that, as a result of the shortage, supplies of biscuits are piling up at the factories while there is a shortage in the shops. I wonder if the Government realise that the lack of one 8 lb. tin in the industry does not mean a loss of 8 lb. of biscuits to the housewife; it means the loss of 80 lb., because such a tin is used altogether anything up to 10 times.
Then there is one other point to which I must refer. Two, if not more, firms of manufacturers have tried to get round the shortage of tinplate for soups by packing dessicated soup in lead foil. These soups have proved very popular with the public. But what has happened now? Having created the demand, having manufactured large quantities of the soup, the manufacturers have now been told by the Government that they will not get any more lead foil for packing it.
1941 I have tried to put before the Committee the facts and figures governing this grave situation. The truth of the matter is that this is another Government muddle—a muddle like groundnuts, like the muddle over fuel supplies, the muddle over meat. The Government have failed to keep a proper balance between exports and home demands. They agreed to send too much tinplate to the Argentine. The result has been to give the Argentine every possible assistance in holding out in the negotiations. Unwittingly, the President of the Board of Trade has been señor Peron's best friend. How much of the 13,169 tons of tinplate sent to the Argentine since August has come back here with meat inside it? The answer is less than 200 tons. With that tinplate, Argentina has been able to can about 65,000 tons of meat.
As always, the worst sufferer from this muddle is the housewife. Her meat ration has been cut; she is finding it increasingly difficult to get tinned soups to make up for it; in some areas there is a shortage now of tinned fish as well; there is a shortage of biscuits; and there is bound to be in the next three months a shortage of tinned fruit.
It has been argued that a quantity of the tinplate we export comes back to this country with food inside it. That is perfectly true. We get Australian and South African jams, South African ham, Malayan fruits, Australian fruit and Australian fruit cakes; but a great deal of what comes back is expensive food. The housewife cannot afford French tinned ham at £550 per ton to be sold at 10s. or 12s. a lb.; she cannot afford tinned chicken from Holland at 6s. 6d. for a 10 oz. tin. Tinned sausages from Germany, Czechoslovakia and Belgium work out at about 9d. per sausage—a somewhat expensive meal for a hungry family of four.
There are other things coming in inside tinplate. From Holland we are taking tinned cauliflower, tinned beans and, of all things, tinned brussels sprouts. I am sure that that fact will be very interesting to the broccoli growers of Devon and Cornwall, and to the brussels sprouts growers of Kent and East Anglia, who are having such a difficult time selling their produce. Another point. British canners have been unable to take up the peas grown in this country because of the 1942 shortage of tinplate, but we are importing French peas inside of the tinplate that our pea canners cannot get.
There is another and much more serious aspect of this muddle. When he replies to the debate, the Minister may say that the adjusted allocations are sufficient to meet current public demand and to avoid a breakdown of supplies. Suppose public demand is met and that the now idle canning plants are set to work again. Well and good. But what about the needs of defence? Large stocks of tinned food in easily transported paper board containers are an essential part of our defence preparations. Anyone who had anything to do with Civil Defence in the last war knows the vital need in rest centres of stocks of soups and other tinned foods. I should like to ask whether there is a single defence organisation anywhere in the country today that has got adequate stocks of tinned food in hand, because if war came tomorrow they could not draw on local grocers' stocks: they are already run right down.
Anyone who travelled the road from Algiers to Sfax in the war years, or the road from Alamein to Tunis, will recall one thing about them—the millions of tins glistening in the sun along the roadside. A modern army has an insatiable appetite for tinned food. What stocks have been put aside to meet the needs of the Services? Judging by what happened in the early days in Korea, practically nothing at all. There is another link in this chain of defence. The housewife in her home, with that jealously guarded stock of tinned foods put by for emergency. What hope has she of being able to stock up today? As far as tinned goods are concerned, she is living, like her grocer, from hand to mouth.
This peril of aggression has not come on us over night. It has been obvious for three years. In the matter of reserves of tinned foods what have the Government done? They cut down the allocation of tinned plate to food manufacturers in 1950 and they sent more tinplate abroad than they did in 1949. They cut the allocation to home canners by a further 20 per cent. in the first quarter of 1951. Sometime since 1st February—not a day before—they woke up to the peril of the situation and decided to keep more tinplate at home. The action that the President of the Board of Trade has said he 1943 has taken should have been taken two years ago.
It is another defence failure; another dreadful example of too little and too late; because the task today is to produce not only enough tinned food to meet current public consumption but to fill our defence store cupboards. Their emptiness testifies to the Government's failure.
This Government have an infinite capacity for being blind to shortages and crises until they burst upon their head. Coal, meat, metals, tinplate—they are all part of one long dismal story. The Government have failed again and again to think more than 10 minutes ahead. In the matter of food preservation they have betrayed British horticulture once again; but, much worse than that, they have betrayed the interests of the British people.
§ 4.40 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Supply (Mr. John Freeman)
I apologise to the Committee for intervening at this stage with what will be some rather soporific remarks, but I think it will be helpful if I say a few words on the facts of the tinplate situation which, as I am sure hon. Members on all sides will agree, is the most important of the shortages we are discussing this afternoon. The hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Baker White) accused us of having done nothing whatever about this problem. The root of the difficulty, of course, is a shortage of tinplate being produced in our British mills, and it is a very good thing that the Government took action in this matter three years ago in a way the effects of which will begin to be felt fairly shortly.
Before the war our production of tinplate was about 900,000 tons a year, of which about 400,000 tons used to go to export. During the war there was considerable concentration of that industry in order that the South Wales steel industry could concentrate on a higher rate of production of what were relatively more important products to the war effort than tinplate, and by 1946 that 900,000 tons which had been produced before the war was down to 543,000 tons, of which about 112,000 tons were exported. We have been gradually building up from that and the figure of production in 1950 was 742,900 tons. The difficulty hitherto in 1944 building up the rate of production of tinplate has been the difficulty in getting back to the somewhat antiquated hand mills in South Wales the labour which was dispersed during the war, and I shall have a word or two to say about that in a moment.
The shortage of tinplate, together I suppose with steel sheets, has been one of the major shortages in our post-war economy, and to deal with it in the long-term the first stage of the steel industry development plan included the building of a modern continuous strip mill at Trostre in South Wales. This mill is due to come into operation in the late summer this year. We shall then have continuous strip mills at Ebbw Vale and Trostre, together with the South Wales hand mills, producing tinplate, and the sort of level of production which we might expect as a result of that is something like this.
In this current year Ebbw Vale ought to produce 200,000 tons, which is what it is producing at the moment and is its maximum capacity; Trostre will probably come into operation in the late summer, and it would be over sanguine to expect that more than about 40,000 tons will be taken from it during this current year; from the hand mills we expect about 520,000 tons, making a total production in 1951, provided all goes well, of some 760,000 tons.
§ Mr. Douglas Marshall (Bodmin)
The hon. Gentleman is using the expression "current year." Does he mean January to December?
§ Mr. Freeman
Yes. I am not talking about the financial year but about January to December.
In 1952 there should be no change at Ebbw Vale; Trostre will, we think, produce about 250,000 tons; the hand mills will probably produce about 500,000 tons—a little less than they are producing this year—and that, which I conceive to be a conservative estimate, will give us a supply of tinplate in the calendar year 1952 of some 950,000 tons. From 1953 onwards Trostre should be in full production, and I think it can be said with some confidence that our total supplies, provided we can keep up supplies from the hand mills, will be substantially over a million tons. It is impossible to say exactly what, because no one knows exactly what the output of Trostre will be.
1945 As against that forecast of production, demand is probably something like this. A million tons a year is the stated demand at the moment; that is to say, a million tons is what people are trying to secure in terms of orders at the present moment. But, of course, they are trying to get a million tons against the general background of a well known shortage, and it is pretty certain that if tinplate were in anything like free supply a million tons would prove to be an under-estimate.
§ Mr. Boothby (Aberdeenshire, East)
Does that include tinplate for export as well as for manufacture in this country?
§ Mr. Freeman
Yes. If the hon. Gentleman will allow me, I am just about to break up that figure. That million tons is calculated roughly like this: home requirements for food packing purposes, about 400,000 tons; home requirements for purposes other than food packing, about 200,000 tons; exports, about 400,000 tons, which is the same as prewar; and I can say to the Committee that I have not the slightest doubt that with anything like a free supply the demand for export would go very much higher than that.
Whether or not that million tons is a substantial under-estimate, what is quite certain is that the demand is likely to grow. Indeed, the consumption of the flat products of the steel industry is one of the best indices of industrial progress in any country. Whether or not at some time in the future it will be considered wise to put down another major tinplate mill in this country, it is quite clear from these figures of probable demand and supply that the output of the hand mills will be urgently necessary for as far ahead as it is reasonable to forecast.
No doubt there are a number of reasons why men are unwilling to go into these hand mills in South Wales. It is a particularly unattractive type of work in many ways, and there are now in South Wales other forms of employment available which there were not before. I have no doubt at all that one of the main reasons why they are unwilling to go there is a fear that, when Trostre gets into full production, their jobs may be gone. That fear is, so far as we can see, completely groundless, and I am anxious to state at this Despatch Box and to have it known in South Wales that those who might be 1946 available to go into the hand mills should not be deterred from doing so by any fear that in future for as far ahead as it is reasonable to foresee their jobs will become redundant.
§ Mr. W. Robson-Brown (Esher)
In referring to the possible erection of a further tinplate mill does the hon. Gentleman mean a new hot strip mill or an additional cold reduction mill and finishing plant for the production of strip tinplate at Swansea as part of the Margam project?
§ Mr. Freeman
I appreciate what the hon. Gentleman has in mind, but I would rather not ride off into what is an extremely technical matter. Let us put it this way. Whether or not it is necessary to undertake further extensive capital development of the tinplate industry, I would rather not discuss at the moment which method the Government might in the end choose.
The present labour situation in this industry—which, I may tell the Committee, is practically entirely concentrated in South Wales—is that in Ebbw Vale and the hand mills there are about 17,500 workers, of whom just over 13,000 are rated as productive workers. Another 1,500 men could be employed immediately if we could get them, and the effect of that would be a further production of about 100,000 tons a year of tinplate. Both the steel industry itself and the Government have made every possible effort to recruit labour to this industry, but in the event I have to tell the Committee that all we are doing is keeping the figure just about steady; we are matching the rate of wastage with the new entrants.
When the new mill at Trostre has to be manned up later this year it will certainly take some men who are at present operating in the hand mills—probably a couple of hundred or so; not a large number—but this will lead to some falling off of production from the hand mills. Within the last year, we have managed to bring in, with the full cooperation of the workers in the industry, and settle in South Wales 300 Italian workers, who have so far done very well and appear to be settling down. We are investigating at this moment the possibility of carrying that experiment further, but I think that hon. Members on both 1947 sides of the Committee will realise that the people we should like to see doing this work, if we can possibly get them, are the people of South Wales whose traditional work it is.
Finally, let me say one word about allocation, as I see it, which is admittedly from a rather different point of view to that of the hon. Member for Canterbury. First of all, let us see roughly what the figures were for 1950. For home consumption for food packing purposes 272,000 tons were delivered; for home consumption for non-food purposes 270,000 tons. Let me tell the Committee, incidentally, that the total United Kingdom consumption for non-food purposes is made up of tinplate known as "wasters," which is tinplate not suitable for food packing purposes or for high grade export. Therefore, the non-food packing consumption in the United Kingdom is in no way the rival of food packing for the horticultural industry. Fifty-three thousand tons of prime tinplate was exported for British oil companies overseas, and I do not think that anyone can dissent from that relatively small export for an extremely important purpose. The effect of not exporting that particular tinplate would be that it would have to be obtained from dollar sources, and as it is not available at present from dollar sources, the British oil companies would lose that business.
§ Mr. Nabarro (Kidderminster)
Does the hon. Gentleman mean that 53,000 tons of tinplate has been applied for the export of high grade lubricating oil and similar products from this country, or was it sent to our refineries overseas to enable them to distribute such highly refined products from there?
§ Mr. Freeman
The tinplate is exported to the British oil companies at their refineries overseas. Of the rest of the exports, which total together about 220,000 tons, roughly one-quarter has been tied to what is called, in the rather horrible jargon of the food trade, clothing food imports. I think that hon. Members will understand what that means. The remaining three-quarters has been what is called free export. Taking these last two exports, other than exports to British oil companies overseas, about 144,000 tons went to Commonwealth 1948 countries and British Colonies, and between 103,000 and 104,000 tons to the other countries of the world.
I ought to advise the hon. Member for Canterbury at this stage that if he adds up these figures he will find that they do not quite agree, and the reason is that some are taken from the Trade and Navigation Accounts and some from deliveries. I can assure him, however, that I am presenting him with a substantially accurate picture. In almost every case, these are exports which the Government hold to be vital and which are at present at their minimum. That is to say, that to cancel or cut them further would be either a specific breach of some agreement which we have with another country or would seriously interfere with our colonial policy, or would deprive ourselves of some import which is essential to us, or, at least, would be permanently damaging to the proper pattern of our overseas trade.
I am not suggesting that there is not room for debate about exactly what the level of exports to a particular country ought to be. But it is important, in dealing with that point, that the Committee should appreciate that we cannot just say that we have no responsibility in these matters. It is proper for hon. Members who represent agricultural and horticultural constituencies to present their case in this House, and it is equally proper for the Commonwealth countries to present their case. The House has to hold the balance between them and recognise that powerful arguments can be adduced on both sides.
§ Mr. Molson (The High Peak)
The hon. Gentleman has given us an analysis, which is of great interest and value, of the supply of tinplate for 1950. My hon. Friend referred to the substantial reduction in the tinplate available to the tinning industry of this country since 1949. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not give us only the 1950 figures. Will he tell us about the 1950 figures as compared with those for 1949?
§ Mr. Freeman
I was not proposing to take up the time of the Committee in going back to 1949, beyond saying that, as I followed the remarks of the hon. Member for Canterbury, I had no reason to dissent from the figures which he gave on that point.
1949 I intended to address myself to the point which he made about the difficulty of reconciling the Trade and Navigation Account figures with the statement of the President of the Board of Trade. I had not time, during the few minutes in which the hon. Member was speaking, to make quite certain that I had calculated these to the last decimal point, but the discrepancy is, roughly, this: in the last few months of 1950 there was a substantial back-log in deliveries of tinplate already contracted for and waiting for shipment, and the Trade and Navigation Accounts for December and January—the two months which he quoted—showed not only deliveries of tinplate for export purposes made in those months, but also the working off of the back-log which had built itself up.
Excluding deliveries to oil companies, in December, 1950—a five-week month—5,600 tons of tinplate a week were delivered from the mills for export purposes. That is quite different from what is shown in the Trade and Navigation Accounts. In January and the first half of February, 1951—a seven-week period—only 3,000 tons a week were delivered from the mills for export purposes. It is true that there has been a substantial cut, and I think that the Trade and Navigation figures will show that in subsequent returns.
§ Mr. Freeman
I would prefer not to deal with that. I am anxious to let the Minister of Food deal with it.
Under the Iron and Steel Control Order No. 62 the whole of the supply, procurement and acquisition of tinplate is licensed. No one may acquire tinplate without a licence and no one may dispose of tinplate to any one without a licence. So, the distribution of our tinplate is controlled by the Government, and, so far as we know, there are no leakages, and, at any rate, no substantial black market.
To sum up, all our home requirements, other than for food packing, are met from wasters which are unsuitable for food packing or for export. No one in his senses can complain about the exports which go to the British oil companies overseas. The question is whether what is called specified tinplate which has to be 1950 divided equitably between export and Ministry of Food demands is divided on a reasonable basis. The Minister of Food, who lives much closer to that particular aspect of the problem than I do, will, at a later stage, express the Government's opinion on that point.
I would ask the Committee to realise that it cannot be denied that both these claimants are exceedingly important and that neither is anything like satisfied. I apologise for the length of my intervention in such a short debate and for its somewhat and nature, but I thought that it would be useful for the Committee to have all the facts, which would enable the remainder of the debate to be focused rather more sharply on the problem.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Edgar Granville (Eye)
The Committee is grateful to the Parliamentary Secretary for having spoken so early in the debate and for the information he has given. He did not quarrel with the figures that were quoted by the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Baker White). I would not say that the Parliamentary Secretary has repeated his success in the iron and steel debate, but, nevertheless, he has given us this information. I hope the Government will not think that he has covered the whole problem and disposed of all the criticisms. I hope that we shall have a reply on some of the wider questions by the Minister of Food.
I was very interested in the reference to the Welsh tinplate industry. I am very glad to know that there is to be some increase in production and supplies. I hope that we shall also be told the position in regard to tin and the Cornish industry. I hope that there will also be an increase in production from this source of supply. I hope that the Government will say something about the progress that has been made in research into substitutes for these various items in short supply and whether they have been able to discover any new sources of supply.
There is a great deal of anxiety in industry and trade about the tin position. It would seem from the reports we have had that there is something in the nature of a metal famine approaching. It is not a cold but a most formidable war that is putting a tremendous strain on the metal resources of the world by way of competitive stockpiling, which is being 1951 done largely by bulk purchasing. There are, of course, serious shortages of copper, zinc and nickel, as well as of tin, for the consumer goods industry as well as for the re-armament programme and the export industry.
§ Mr. Boothby
Is not the hon. Member confusing the supply of raw materials with the manufacturing of tinplate? The supply of raw tin has nothing to do with this debate.
§ Mr. Granville
That may or may not be so, but I think it has some relevance to the subject.
I want to deal more particularly with the question of consumer goods and the supply of tins. I repeat that there is an overall shortage of tin, and that this shortage throughout the world is, directly or indirectly, affecting the re-armament programme, the export trade and the consumer goods industry. There is a considerable shortage of tins for the consumer goods industry.
§ Mr. J. Freeman
Obviously, a shortage of tin metal might, in the long run, have some impact on the production of tinplate, but I can assure the hon. Member that it does not at the moment.
§ Mr. Granville
I will show the Parliamentary Secretary in the course of my speech, that it does. There are a variety of reasons for this shortage. A great many people in the retail industry are afraid of a famine and a rise in the price of tin. They think that they must do something about it by increasing their stocks. There is also a fear of an increase in the Purchase Tax. [Interruption.] The hon. Member ought to know enough about the food industry to realise that this is relevant, instead of interrupting with an un-Parliamentary epithet. A number of retailers are stockpiling tins of various commodities because they fear the possibility of a rise in the Purchase Tax. These proprietary articles, some of which are the products of the hon. Member for Croydon, North (Mr. Frederic Harris), are well known.
§ Mr. Granville
If the hon. Member does not know it, let him go out and ask the first retailer he comes across what stocks he is carrying on his shelves.
§ Mr. Granville
Stocks of tinned goods, to which reference was made by the hon. Member for Canterbury. Of course, the big merchants and manufacturers can buy supplies in large quantities, but the small man has not the capital to make forward purchases. The result is people are finding that when they go to the suppliers they are told that they cannot have their supplies of tins. I want to know what is the Government's policy. Are they, in fact, rationing tins on the basis of the status quo? Is the control on the basis of the requirements of 1950? I should like the Minister of Food to tell us the basis on which allocations are made to the retail and wholesale trade.
Reference was also made to the Argentine—I think a figure of 65,000 tons of tin has been given. I should like to know whether it is true that tinned meat has been sent to the United States from the Argentine. I notice that the President of the Board of Trade is to visit the U.S.A., and I believe that we have now appointed our representative to the raw materials conference at Washington. I believe that representative is to be Lord Knollys. I should like to know whether tin is to be one of the subjects which is to be discussed and considered by one of the five or six groups which are to be set up at that conference. I believe that tin is, but I should like to know.
§ Mr. Granville
I am referring to tin and tinplate. I believe that tin is on the agenda of that conference, and I should like to ask the Minister who is to reply to the debate whether that aspect is to receive consideration. I ask that because the shortage of tins for retail goods and canned food, etc., which was referred to by the hon. Member for Canterbury, is, as he said, becoming an extremely serious problem.
We have had all this trouble about meat, and I do not think that the domestic consumers in this country can be asked to take a further cut in their food. Can the Minister of Food give us an assurance that the stockpiling which is taking place for military purposes—we 1953 only know what is reported in the Press—will not result in serious difficulties in the supply of canned food to the domestic consumer? Can the Minister give us an undertaking about that today? I notice that the American tin can industry consumes about 30 billion tin cans a year. If we are to have a cut in the volume of our tinned food, if that is what we are to expect from the statement we have heard from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Supply today we ought to have international fair shares in the matter.
This question should be raised at the Washington conference, and the food needs of our civilian population should be pressed by His Majesty's Government. In a speech a few days ago the Minister of Labour said that a nation's real war potential was the technique and morale of its civil population. I repeat that there ought to be fair shares. The United States has, I suppose, the highest standard of living in the world, and the consumption of canned foods and tinned commodities there is higher than that of the rest of the world put together. If we are to make sacrifices for the re-armament programme or even for our export trade this country ought, as a result of that conference, to be put in the position of having fair shares because the civilian population here have borne the brunt of the sacrifices with regard to food. That has been so in the case of meat.
I do not know whether the President of the Board of Trade is going to Washington to discuss the overall question with his opposite number, Mr. Charles Wilson, who is in charge in this sphere in America. My view is that the Minister of Supply is the man to send to discuss the matter to which I have referred. He understands the metal trade; he is in the business. The President of the Board of Trade is to discuss the question of sulphur supplies. I hope that whatever agreement is made about the integration of defence it will be made clear that our civilian population have taken as much as they can bear, and that there must be no cut or serious diminution of the supply of tinned food to this country.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Boothby (Aberdeenshire, East)
One can get away with murder on the platform; one can get away with murder 1954 after dinner; one can sometimes get away with murder on the air; but the hon. Member for Eye (Mr. Granville) knows this House well enough to realise that one cannot get away with murder in the House of Commons. I do not say that one has to know everything about the subject one is discussing, but one has to have a clue. The hon. Member has not got a clue.
§ Mr. Boothby
I did not need to give way to the hon. Gentleman to know that he would listen to me with interest—
§ Mr. Boothby
I will give way to the hon. Member when I have finished the comment I was making. The limiting factor is not tin at all, but the tinplate manufacturing capacity in this country at the moment, as anyone knows who has given the slightest thought to the subject.
§ Mr. Granville
If the hon. Gentleman will take himself away from his television economics into the world which affects the ordinary housewife, he will find that the speech he is now about to deliver will be directly related to the supply of tinned food and tinned commodities in this country.
§ Mr. Boothby
The hon. Member still has not got it right. I am not talking about raw tin, but about tinplate; that is, about what is put round so-called tin cans. In the case of all the food and fish sold as tinned food, the limiting factor is not tin. It does not matter what Lord Knollys or any Minister does in Washington, it will not affect this problem in the least. What will affect it is how much tinplate can be produced in South Wales, and how soon.
The only constructive suggestion which the hon. Member for Eye made was that we should send to Washington a Minister for metal. He said that the President of 1955 the Board of Trade should deal with sulphur, and the Minister of Supply should deal with tin because he knows about metals. If we are now to send one Minister to Washington for each raw material, I see a better chance of bringing down this Government than I have seen for some time.
I wish to speak briefly and only because it happens that there are in my constituency two canning firms of considerable size and importance—Crosse and Blackwell's and Maconochie's. Both have been extremely anxious about their tinplate supplies for some months past. It worries me greatly, because horticultural products are not the only products that go into tin cans. Another food—dare I say it?—herrings, go into tins; and very good they are when tinned.
During recent years, when we have lost so large a proportion of our export markets on the Continent of Europe the herring fishing industry—I have no doubt that one of my hon. Friends will later mention pilchards—has come to rely to an increasing extent on the canning industry. If any serious deterioration took place in the supplies of tinplate to the canning industry, it would have a really disastrous effect so far as the herring industry is concerned. I say without hesitation that the canning of herrings is now the most hopeful development for the future of the herring industry in this country.
We know too well what has happened to the great Continental markets for cured salt herrings; and the development of canning is vital. About 9 per cent. of the total herring catch has been taken in recent years by the canning factories, which is a substantial proportion. I do not think that the figures I am about to give contradict those which were given by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Supply. My information is that exports of tinplate for the first 10 months of 1950 were approximately 205,700 tons, compared with 160,300 tons during the corresponding period in 1949. That is to say, that in the first 10 months of 1950 we exported 45,000 tons more of tinplate than we did in the first 10 months of the previous year. I think that at this moment, when the stockpiling of food is more necessary to this country than it has ever been before, to export tinplate 1956 to soft currency areas which is desperately required for the canning of our food is insanity.
I think that, during this period of shortage, and until the full South Wales production capacity comes into operation, we ought further to cut down our exports of tinplate to the soft currency countries. Even when it is turned into canned food there and re-exported to this country, as it is to a considerable extent, it is madness to export it; and, if it is required by them for any other reason, then we are losing the canned food which we now so desperately need.
I understand from the canners that an addition of something between 15,000 and 20,000 tons per annum would probably meet their requirements; that is to say, only half the increase in our exports last year compared with the year before. The comparative figure is trivial; but for the sake of 15,000 or 20,000 tons—I agree that some concessions were recently made—we have been threatened with the complete closing down of both the Maconochie and the Crosse and Blackwell canning factories. The repercussions of that, not only upon the herring industry, but upon our food supplies generally, would be absolutely disastrous.
This is a matter of relative advantages from the national point of view. The Minister has posed a question, and I have no hesitation in giving the answer—that, as far as specified tinplate is concerned, there should be a reduction in our exports to soft currency countries during the next 12 critical months sufficient to satisfy the total requirements of all the food canning factories in this country.
§ 5.22 p.m.
§ Mr. Douglas Marshall (Bodmin)
I am very glad to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Mr. Boothby), because the points that I want to address to the Minister rather lead from the points which my hon. Friend has already put. My hon. Friend has just mentioned the necessity to ensure, in the national interest, that in no circumstances whatever should tinplate suddenly become unavailable in sufficient quantities for the herring industry. At the same time, he had the courtesy to turn to me and say that if I was called I should probably mention the question of the pilchard industry as well.
1957 As far as I can understand, the present position relating to the canning processes of fish is this—and I think I will stop at the word "canned" and not use the word "tin," thus avoiding confusion. The allocation that was made last June and the basis of that allotment, and the allotment that is likely to continue, will probably be exactly the same percentage as before with regard to fish. But the difficulty is this. The vagaries of the fish themselves are well known to hon. Members. In certain industries such as the pilchard industry it is possible that for a certain part of the season when fish are not available to be caught, other products have to be processed so that the whole factory can keep alive and become an economic and efficient unit in the service of the national interest.
Let us say that the other side of a factory is engaged in pea canning so that when they are not canning pilchards they are canning peas. If the amount of tinplate allocated for that purpose is reduced, it means that if the fish are not available during any part of the season the factory will have to run down and will thus not be an efficient unit able to deal with fish when it comes in at a later date. This point has been put, by letter and other means, to Ministers from time to time, but there has not been a satisfactory answer yet. If the Ministers concerned believe, as I trust they do, in the vital need for sufficient tinplate for the fish canning industry, then they must equally realise that those factories which are also concerned with other forms of processing as an ancillary industry must have a sufficient supply of tinplate.
Another point I want to make is this. If the Minister is equally interested in ensuring that in every way we conserve that form of food which we ourselves can obtain either in our island home or from the seas which gird our island home, it must be necessary for the Minister to encourage these industries to venture forth into new processes which they may not as yet have developed. For example, if a factory decides to turn to the canning of crabs as a new venture as well as their present canning of fish, in order to take in a surplus of crabs and use them in the national interest, so that we do not have to import crabs, what will be the position of such a factory? Are they to get 1958 further allocations of tinplate or are they only to find themselves in the position of having to cut down what they are already doing in the canning of other forms of white fish? If the Minister can say, "If that is a good thing to do we will allocate them so much more tinplate" it will give a future to that industry and it will enable it to go ahead and develop.
I do not wish to detain the Committee long. I simply wanted to make those few points and to reinforce the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeenshire, East. I sincerely trust that the Minister, in replying, will indicate that he has listened attentively to the points which my hon. Friend made concerning the export of tinplate to soft currency countries. Our first vital need is to ensure that we have sufficient tinplate in our own country to can our own produce, not only because it is a sensible thing to do, not only because it is also a help to all those people who produce or catch the necessary products to can, but also because it is vital to defence.
There is no Member listening to my speech who does not remember that at the beginning of the war one of the chief things that we were asked to do as citizens, apart from those serving in His Majesty's Forces, was to see that there was a certain quantity of canned goods in the larder. We are all aware that today there is not a larder in the United Kingdom which is not well night bare. Let us ensure that the processing industry does not come to a standstill simply because we have exported tinplate.
§ 5.29 p.m.
§ Mr. Dye (Norfolk, South-West)
While there may be Maconochies and other firms in Scotland and in other parts of the country, one area which in recent years has developed greatly in the producing and canning of fruit, vegetables and fish is Norfolk. This is a very important part of our economy. The growing and canning of fruit and vegetables have to be planned over the year in order that the factories may be fully employed for the greater part of the year. This matter has given rise to some concern. These canning factories have not been able to make the arrangements which they would desire to make with the growers, and this is particularly true in the case of peas.
1959 There is a very rapid process by which the farmers having grown their peas in great quantities; the viners go to work on the farms, the fresh peas are taken straight to the factories where they are cooked and canned and then stored for later consumption. If the canners cannot make hard and fast contracts with the growers the supplies of peas will not be forthcoming. Therefore, it is necessary that the local canners who require peas should know not only the quantity of tinplate that will be forthcoming for them, but the time it will arrive at the factory. The anxiety that is caused should, if at all possible, be allayed and the canners in Norfolk and other parts of the country should know how their supplies are coming along.
Nobody at the moment can foretell the size of this year's fruit crops. Frost and other things may intervene, but, given a normal crop, unless the canners can take a large share of it, the growers will not be able to dispose of it at reasonable prices to cover their costs. I was worried two years ago when visiting Northern Ireland to find that the local canners were importing rhubarb from Holland to can inside their allocations of tinplate and sugar, despite the fact that in that same year both the cans and the sugar were in short supply to meet home requirements.
I ask the Minister of Food to be good enough to look into these questions and ensure that the allocation both of tinplate and of sugar to our local canners is used for canning home grown fruit and vegetables in the period of the year when they are fresh and available. I know that during parts of the year it is essential to import dried beans and peas or some other commodity, but while there is this abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables my right hon. Friend should be able to get an assurance from the canners that they will deal with home products unless, of course, between now and the period when there should be an abundance of home supplies available, something intervenes to cut down our home crops. Given an ordinary year we ought to be able to secure such an assurance from the canners about the supplies which they will receive, and I hope my right hon. Friend will take it up with the canning interests concerned.
§ 5.33 p.m.
§ Colonel Gomme-Duncan (Perth and East Perthshire)
I agree with the hon. Member for Norfolk, South-West (Mr. Dye), that assurances such as he has mentioned are highly desirable in the interests of the different parts of the industry. Growers particularly would be happy to know that the canners have an assurance of tinplate for the market open to them, and they, in turn, should be expected to use as much as possible of it for home produce rather than for the foreign.
Unlike my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Mr. Boothby), I do not represent a constituency in which there is a risk of a factory closing down, but one in which two factories have closed down all ready. The fruit and vegetable factories in Blairgowrie and in Coupar Angus in East Perthshire closed down shortly before Christmas solely because of the shortage of tinplate. This has hit these two small burghs extremely hard. I do not want to advocate absurdly the claims of my own constituency, because everyone has his own particular plea in that respect, but these were industries started with a view to taking the place of an industry which had closed down because its products were no longer required for the war.
These canning factories were started with the sole purpose of restoring to those towns something of the prosperity which the war-time factories had produced for them. They were welcomed, and absorbed a considerable number of people. Something like 180 to 200 people have now been thrown out of employment. In this debate so far we have not heard the word "employment" mentioned, but it is a very important thing in small burghs like that, that 100 or 200 people should be thrown out of a job because it is no longer possible to run the industry in which they were employed owing to lack of an essential raw material. Had they got sufficient tinplate to carry on, they could have stretched over the difficult period between the completion of the canning of the old crops and the coming along of the new crops.
I particularly want to know whether the Minister would consider this matter from the point of view of employment. I see that yesterday the right hon. Gentleman, in reply to a question put by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for 1961 Angus, South (Captain Duncan), said that the allocation of tinplate this year would be practically the same as last year, when it was 16,000 tons for fruit and 8,000 tons for jam. Last year there was a reduction on the previous year, and what we want to know is whether in cutting down further the exports of tinplate already mentioned, there would be more available for the fruit and jam industry.
In my constituency raspberries grow better than in any other part of the world. There are very large orchards there, which have been planted and extended since the war. The growers were encouraged by the Minister of Food to grow this fruit, which the climate and the ground suit so well. A large proportion of it is very liable to be wasted unless a sufficient amount of tinplate is made available, and I earnestly ask the Minister to reconsider this matter because of those factories which are closed down. It is essential that the canners should have supplies of tinplate in their hands to enable them to pile up a stock of cans ready for the crop when it comes along. We need a very big store of cans to deal with the peak period which, in my part of Scotland, is in the third quarter of the year. So far, indications show that the third quarter of this year will be very difficult. I hope we shall hear from the Minister that there will be more tinplate made available and less sent abroad.
There is a very strong feeling amongst the growers—and I think a genuine one and not altogether unreasonable—that tinplate is going to their foreign rivals and that it will come back with the goods in it, which they could have provided in this country had they had the tinplate. I do not think that that is an actual fact, and I hope that the Minister will be able to give us facts and figures tonight to disprove it, so that we can reassure these people who have this genuine feeling. The growers believe that the amount of tinplate which is sent to their competitors abroad means that a smaller amount of fruit and vegetables will be required from them. That is what is worrying them, and an assurance from the Minister on that point is desirable.
This employment question is a very genuine one. Although the numbers are small, to a small community they are big. I have no doubt it is the same in other parts of the country. I am not trying to 1962 claim that we have the sole trouble, but I hope we shall hear something on that side of the question so that the home producers may know where they stand in this matter of producing food for the country.
§ 5.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Tomney (Hammersmith, North)
I intervene for a moment or two to point out that most hon. Members have been advancing, as they usually do in debates of this character, the claims of particular industries or particular bodies. Very few hon. Members have dealt with the consumer aspect of the matter. My hon. Friend below me, the Member for Norfolk, South-West (Mr. Dye), has on this occasion, as on others, made out substantially the same case as certain hon. Members of the Opposition have made out. The Parliamentary Secretary, in his reply, did point out the position and the difficulties of the industry, and the fact that for the future a position will arise which will remedy the present shortage.
Any Government such as the present Government must not appear to be ruling for any particular section of the community. If it does so, it fails in its duty to the general public and to the consumer. One of the difficulties of the Government has been to work out the export market for the future which can provide full employment for the rolling mills, which can come into production and provide further expansion for what were formerly the distressed areas. They have to look at the broad picture in this country. On the other hand, there is great danger by excluding exports from other countries, of providing the employers and the canners of this country with an opportunity to manipulate the market to their own ends.
Therefore, in this short intervention, I want to say that the opening speech made by the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Baker White) was, in my opinion, beyond the bounds of decency. It was very insulting. We had the old gibes trotted out about meat, housing and now tin. What he did not say, and what the Opposition forget to say, is that the general standard in this country of all people engaged in all industries, including the canning industry, has risen considerably. [HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense."]
1963 The hon. Member also referred to the shortage of waste paper. He blamed the Government for that. Surely he must know that waste paper salvage and collection has been conducted for the last eight years chiefly by the local authorities. In my area the council had to cease the collection of waste paper because the price they got from the merchants did not cover the cost of collection. Let us bear in mind that the waste paper merchants are engaged in private enterprise, so let us have a little less of this nonsense and some more facts. With those remarks, I conclude my intervention.
§ 5.43 p.m.
§ Mr. Baldwin (Leominster)
In the short time that I have available I cannot follow the line taken by the hon. Member for Hammersmith, North (Mr. Tomney), very far, but I want to take him up on one point, and that is that we are not giving the consumers the attention in this debate to which they are entitled. The consumer is the one who will benefit from this debate, if the Minister takes any notice of our plea that we should keep more tinplate in this country to be able to can more of our own fruit so that the consumers can get fruit from this country on to their shelves.
Many times we have complained of the lack of co-operation among various Ministries. The trouble with the canning industry is that the same thing is happening again. Here is an instance where the Minister of Food, the Minister of Agriculture and the President of the Board of Trade should consult with one another to find out what the wants of each Department may be. Unfortunately, it seems always to be the ambition of the President of the Board of Trade to reach the export target no matter whether the exports are sent abroad to bring back something which is useful or not. With regard to the tinplate that we have been exporting to Argentina, we have been rather cutting the ground from under the feet of the Minister of Food, who was sticking out to buy meat from that country at a more reasonable price. We have now sent to Argentina the tinplate which they wanted to can that beef and send it to the United States of America. That shows a complete lack of co-operation.
1964 Another point which I want to make is that one should only send abroad the available tinplate in order to bring back goods which we cannot produce for ourselves. I have some figures, which are shown in the trade and industry returns under the heading of "imports, tinned or bottled fruit." These figures are given for 1949, 1950 and 1951. They show that in 1949 we imported £3,572 worth, in 1950, £36,922 worth and in 1951, £55,799 worth of this fruit. The figures for strawberries show that in January of this year the imports were £28,276 worth against an importation valued at £29 last year. I do not know whether that figure was partly because we chucked up a contract with Holland for £300,000 worth of strawberries, or not, but it looks very much like it. We must remember that we have not sent abroad sufficient exports to pay for those imports. The value of our imports in January of this year was £83,000 more than the value of our exports. That figure has risen very considerably during the last two years.
We have heard about the troubles of the fishing industry in Norfolk and South-East England. I would call attention to the fact that in the West of England we also have our problems. Close to my constituency there are two canning factories. This is the sort of thing that they tell me:Due to the shortage of cans, we had to stop apple canning very early.The result was that there were many thousands of tons of apples in Herefordshire because nobody could put them into cans for storage.
§ Mr. Baldwin
These people also say:We have thousands of cases of goods on order that we cannot pack, due to lack of cans. Unless we get more cans for the fruit season, commencing May and finishing October, we shall he in a very bad position.With regard to the months from May to October, I would call the attention of the Minister of Food to the fact that it was during that period that the allocation of cans to the canning factories had the biggest cut last year, when the allocation showed a 35 per cent. reduction over 1949. That is something which the Minister might take up with his colleagues, because it is in that part of the year in the horticultural districts that we 1965 particularly want the allocation of cans to be increased.
Another factory writes to this effect:During August and September, which is, of course, the plum and damson canning season, we were able to go at full capacity for the first fortnight of August, but after that we had to drop to no more than an eight-hour working day, whereas normally we run for 14½ hours. Even then, in the later part of some weeks we had to turn our workers off. …The hon. Member who said that we must think of the workers was thinking of the workers in the tinplate industry; we also have to think of the workers in the canning industry.
I said that I would take only five minutes and one of my hon. Friends whom I asked to remind me, has told me that my time is up, and I am much obliged to him for doing so. I would only add that as the Government have Cabinet meetings to decide issues on the higher level so they ought to have junior Cabinet meetings consisting of the various heads of Ministries, in order to make them co-operate one with another. The Minister of Food will say that he works in co-operation with the Minister of Agriculture, but I know that he does not. I hope that in future the Minister of Agriculture, the President of the Board of Trade and the Minister of Food will get together and decide these issues before taking any decisions.
§ 5.52 p.m.
§ Mr. Wilkes (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central)
I enter the debate with a considerable amount of trepidation, because I am not an expert in tinplate. The shortage of tinplate has impinged on my constituency and I have been applying my mind to it and have come to certain conclusions. It is a very difficult position. If one adopts the doctrine that nothing should be exported until home demands are satisfied and that the export trade is a mere overspill of the home market — as many hon. Members opposite did between 1945 and 1947 when they expressed a certain amount of scepticism about the validity and potentiality of our export drive—it is easy to hold the Government entirely blameworthy for exporting tinplate while there is a very serious shortage at home.
But I also remember that precisely because we have for so long been exporting things that we needed at home, 1966 we alone of all the countries which received it, have been able to dispense with Marshall Aid. The position of the overall balance of trade which we reached a very few months ago before the change in the international trading position has created shortages at home and dislocations in supply. It is always a very fine balance as to which way we should divert supplies.
I am not prepared to say that the Government are blameworthy for having exported a great deal of tinplate which we could have used at home. Of course we could have used it at home. We could have used a lot of things at home, but we decided to concentrate on exports and have done our best to strike a fair balance. That does not mean that I am not entitled to draw the attention of the Government to the very serious position and to bring one or two facts to their attention. While it is obvious that we must export a considerable amount of tinplate to Iran, where it is required in the oil fields, and to the Commonwealth, because a large part of the Commonwealth tinplate comes back to us with other commodities, I am a little dubious about why we exported 176,000 tons to Egypt in 1950, when we exported only 61,000 tons in 1949.
I am also a little dubious as to why, if the total export value of our tinplate was £11,500,000 sterling in 1949, it should have increased to £15,500,000 by 1950. I reiterate the plea which has been made that our export of tinplate to the soft currency areas should be looked at with a very close and discerning eye. I cannot see why we should have needed to export more tinplate to Spain in 1950 than we did in 1949. Perhaps there is a good reason for it. If so, let us hear why we should have exported more to both Egypt and Spain in 1950 than in 1949.
It is a very difficult matter to strike the proper balance. The problem relates to not only canning but all producing agencies concerned with perishable and semi-perishable foodstuffs. A well-known firm of confectionery manufacturers in my constituency in 1950 trebled their exports to markets specially designated by the Government as desirable, and yet in the last three or four months of last year they were only able to undertake 5 per cent. of their export orders because of the chronic shortage of tinplate. I reiterate the plea that the Government should look again 1967 at the exports to soft currency areas, strike a still fairer balance, and allow more of the tinplate produced to be used at home.
§ 5.57 p.m.
§ Lord Dunglass (Lanark)
We are glad to have the support of the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central (Mr. Wilkes), for our very modest claim upon the Government. All we are asking is that the Government should strike a balance between the home and the export markets. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Supply was reasonable and convincing so long as he talked about the impossibility of getting increased supplies from home production. It is true that there is a programme of home production which looks ahead for a number of years, but there is very little chance of getting any substantial increase in tinplate from home production just now. It comes back again and again to the question of how we are to get it, and the answer is that we must cut the export allocations.
The hon. Member said that a possible cut of 20,000 tons in the export allocations would be a very annoying thing; but if it was diverted to the home market it would save the fruit-producing industry. The Minister of Food requires more convincing on this subject. He ought to face this fact and use his influence, particularly with the Treasury, to cut export allocations by some 20,000 tons if he is to save our fruit-growing industry this year. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Colonel Gomme-Duncan) has spoken about the fruit-growing industry in Scotland. The two important areas there are expanding fruit production at the request of the Minister of Food. As a result of good prospects and expansion, certain canning factories have come to Scotland. They are particularly valuable in the industrial West where we have had to rely in the past almost exclusively on heavy industries because if unemployment comes we thereby get a diversion of industry.
There is one particular aspect of the fruit-growing industry which I want to mention in a sentence. The strawberry-growing industry has suffered in the past, and was almost annihilated by the incidence of disease. Now science and research have been successful in breeding 1968 certain disease-resistant, strawberry plants, and from now on, the strawberry growers are in a position to increase their acreage considerably. Over the last few years the canning of strawberries has increased and it has now reached 1,000 tons.
If, however, this shortage of tinplate is allowed to hit the fruit-growing industry, particularly the strawberry-growing section, this year, it will put the strawberry-growing areas right back to where they were five or six years ago, and will practically put them out of business. Therefore, apart from the general allocation, I ask the Minister to pay particular attention to the strawberry-growing districts, so that this now rapidly increasing section of the fruit-growing industry shall not have its future jeopardised. Again, in closing, I make the point that I made on rising, that there is no way out of this other than that the Ministry of Food shall insist with the Treasury that exports shall be cut by 20,000 tons this year.
§ 6.2 p.m.
§ Mr. Edward Evans (Lowestoft)
In view of the eloquent case put by my hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, South-West (Mr. Dye), I only want to make a few constituency points. A few weeks ago I had to raise in this Chamber the question of unemployment in Lowestoft. I said that one of the causes of this growing incidence, which is quite serious and is one of the worst in the country, is the fact that these new and developing industries of canning have been deprived of the necessary raw material.
We have several canning factories in Lowestoft and the neighbourhood. We have a large Co-operative Wholesale Society factory which produces a tremendous amount of canned fruit and fish for export. We also have a highly specialised export of high quality herring kippered in the traditional way. They are not dyed herring, they are the real thing. We say our herring are second to none. I would say that to the hon. Member for Aberdeen, East (Mr. Boothby), if he were here. That industry has developed considerably during the past few years, and it is a matter of great distress to us in the town that the inadequate supply of tinplate has resulted in a rise in the unemployment rate.
We all agree that it is essential to maintain our exports and that the export of 1969 tinplate is essential to the economy of this country. What is galling is that it is difficult to reconcile that doctrine with the import into this country, in our own tinplate, of the very goods which our own canners are crying out to can. That is not easily resolved I know. I agree very much with, the noble Lord the Member for Lanark (Lord Dunglass) who said that, if we could only get an allocation of tinplate, it would provide these growing industries with a certain amount of stability and with the ability of maintain the market It would enable the horticultural districts, which are suffering badly, to take up the surplus horticultural products which otherwise will be thrown back into the ground.
We do not ask for a great deal. We on these benches are conscious of the difficulties of the Government. Indeed, I am sure. So are hon. Members opposite because, if they were on these benches, they would have the same problems. We know the Government have to maintain a high export of tinplate, but it would be of advantage to us all if the Government were to discriminate a little more against the exports to soft currency markets as against those to hard currency areas. I hope that those industries in my own constituency which depend on a reasonable allocation of tinplate will be allowed to continue, and that the gnawing anxiety of seasonal unemployment will be alleviated to that extent at any rate.
§ 6.6 p.m.
§ Mr. Molson (The High Peak)
I support the general plea that has been made to the Government to make available a larger quantity of tinplate for the canning industry. I was not aware, before listening to the speech of the hon. Member for Hammersmith, North (Mr. Tomney), that there was anything disgraceful in an hon. Member putting forward the claims of an industry in his constituency or of the interests of those who work there. Perhaps it is necessary to remind the hon. Gentleman that my hon. Friends on this side of the Committee have emphasised the great importance of this industry, both in our food and defence affairs, in order to provide stocks for the civilian population of the country, and also to give encouragement to the agricultural, horticultural and fishing industries.
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry ot Supply gave us a useful and 1970 factual statement about the existing supplies of tinplate. What he did not explain was what I am informed is the truth, that in 1950 the amount of tinplate made available for the canning of food in this country was less than in 1949. Since he showed—if I understood his figures correctly—that there was actually an increase in the production of tinplate in 1950 over the previous year, it is not easy to understand why there should have been a reduction in the allocation to the canning industry. And for the first quarter of this year there was a further reduction of 20 per cent.
Our argument from this side of the Committee is that this is exporting a valuable raw material whereas, if it were made available to our industry, it would be possible both to reduce imports of tinned foodstuffs from overseas and also to increase our own exports. Some of this tinplate is being sent to European countries. In particular, a considerable quantity has been sent to Norway. From Norway the Minister of Food has bought quantities of sprats and brislings. These have been advertised by the Ministry of Food, and many people feel that this has been done to encourage the sale of products which are in direct competition with the fish caught and canned in this country. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will mention this to the Minister when he returns. I am also informed that, despite advertisement by the Ministry, these various lines of Norwegian tinned fish have not gone well, and that a considerable quantity has already been sold back to Norway. I should like to be informed whether or not that is the case.
The Parliamentary Secretary spoke about the export of tinplate inside the Commonwealth. He apparently assumed that we on this side of the Committee would approve of the export of tinplate to Dominions such as South Africa and Australia. In both of those Dominions at the present time tinplate factories are being built and will come into production in the near future. Already the factory in Australia has been tendering in Malaya for the sale of their products, and it will probably be in production before the end of this year.
I condemn, and I have been seeking to draw attention to the export of tinned food from this country to such 1971 countries as the Argentine, Brazil and Canada. I object still more—and I shall be raising this matter, I hope, tomorrow —to the fact that this tinned meat is being sold to foreign countries after receiving the benefit of a subsidy from the British Exchequer.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food (Mr. Frederick Willey)
§ Mr. Molson
The Parliamentary Secretary shakes his head. The last circular which I have seen issued by his Ministry said that it would be discontinued after 1st May, 1951.
§ Mr. Willey
I believe that the hon. Member is referring to a circular calling the attention of the trade to a price increase, which is another matter.
§ Mr. Molson
I have just said that in that circular it was pointed out that the meat which is sold for export purposes is at present enjoying the benefit of a subsidy—part of the food subsidies that are being paid in this country—and that that is to be discontinued as from 1st May.
§ Mr. Willey
I apologise for interrupting again, but I am sure that the hon. Member does not wish to create a wrong impression. These prices are averaged over a period, and it is for that reason, because the prices of meat have gone up, that it is necessary to make this increase in May. The result over a period would be that the meat will not carry any subsidy.
§ Mr. Molson
I very much hope that the Question will be reached tomorrow, and then, perhaps, we can have a full clarification of this financial injustice.
However that may be, I welcome the export of fish, and particularly of herrings, which are caught from this country. The particular firm in which I am interested would be able to sell a vastly increased quantity of home-caught fish in Malaya if only it were possible for them to obtain the necessary tins. At one time during the war they were using as many as two million tins a week, but during the first quarter of 1951 that figure was reduced to one-third of a million tins per week.
If only it were possible for a large quantity of tins to be provided, the industry would be enabled to regain prosperity, and to give assured markets for 1972 the catching of fish and the production of foodstuffs in this country. That would be not only of immense value to consumers in Malaya but would assure us of some reserve against an emergency. I therefore join with my hon. Friends in urging the Government to make a larger allocation of tinplate available.
§ 6.13 p.m.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Wilson (Truro)
The very short point which I wish to raise has considerable importance, not only to Cornwall and to the West Country, but to the export drive. Many hon. Members will be aware that the fish which in Cornwall we commonly call the pilchard is, in fact, a large sardine. How it came about that the identical fish is called two different names in places quite close together, I do not know. Possibly the ancient Cornish, in their trade in tin with the Mediterranean, got to hear the Latin name for the sardine, which is pilchardus, and this may have given rise to their description of their own somewhat larger fish. The fact remains that the pilchard is a sardine, although somewhat larger. One might say that it was a retired sardine, one which has escaped the nets of Spain and Portugal and which, getting into the more congenial, colder waters off the coast of Cornwall, has grown somewhat larger and has got a thicker skin.
Recently a British firm with Spanish experience of canning bought the pilchard canning factory at Mevagissey with the intention of canning, not pilchards, but sardines. They had proved to their own satisfaction from experiments that if they skinned and boned a pilchard and put it in oil, into the same sized tin as a sardine, they could produce a product which looked like a sardine, which tasted like a sardine, and which was, in fact, a sardine. Their only trouble is the allocation of tinplate—not only the quantity, but the size of the tins and the manufacturers who can deal with a particular sized tin, because the traditional tize of a sardine tin is different from that which is used for pilchards.
It does not need any knowledge of export trends or economics to appreciate that a sardine tin such as the one I hold in my hand—a somewhat handy tin—containing the tasty and well-known product which we associate with the word sardine, has a much wider world market 1973 than the somewhat clumsy tin, such as that which I now show to the Committee, which is commonly sold as a pilchard tin. Incidentally this tin, although bought in Cornwall in St. Austell, does not contain Cornish pilchards; it was packed in Japan and was inported by the Ministry of Food. This tin, however, is the standard size of a tin of pilchards.
It seems to me obvious that if it is possible to produce from the Cornish pilchards an item of food that can be genuinely sold as a sardine, it ought to make a very great difference to the export trade. At present we are exporting tins to soft currency countries such as Portugal and Spain, into which our friends on the Peninsula are packing identical fish to those which we have here—in oil which we could get here, and in our own tins—and are exporting them all over the world. If it is possible—and the firm of which I speak thinks that it is possible—for us to compete in that market, with our own tins and with our own fish, it would be highly desirable that we should do so.
In the past, the two basic exports of Cornwall have been tin and pilchards. Both these industries are depressed. I will not go into the question of tin, but the decline in the pilchards industry is largely due to an alteration of public taste. I have never met anybody who showed any inclination to eat starry gazey pie, which, I understand from the old books about Cornwall, consisted of a mixture of pastry, Cornish cream and pilchards; nor does one often find people who want to eat pressed pilchards. It is largely a question of taste. But if a new use could be found for pilchards, this is a matter which should seriously be looked into, and if the allocation of tin is hampering the development of what might be an important new industry, I hope that the Minister will study this problem.
§ 6.18 p.m.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd (Mid-Bedfordshire)
I think that by universal agreement this will be regarded as a very important debate. I am very sorry that it has been so short, because the importance of the subject justifies a longer discussion than we have been able to have this evening. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Supply, who has already explained his absence later tonight, said that his remarks might prove to be something in 1974 the nature of a soporofic, and although the hon. Gentleman gave some very interesting information he left a number of points unanswered. The general result of his speech was, no doubt deliberately, a little to reduce the tempo of this discussion.
Though a very definite issue is at stake —an issue that at present divides Parliamentary parties—I venture to think that a number of hon. Members on the other side agree pretty generally with the arguments that we have put forward. Indeed, there have been a number of interesting speeches from the Government back benches largely in agreement with the arguments put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Canterbury (Mr. Baker White).
Any Government, from whichever party it was drawn, would have a tinplate problem to face, but it is our case that in this field, as in so many others, the planning of the Socialist Government has gone wholly wrong. No one can blame the tinplate industry; they have done their very best. Indeed, in the last six years their output has increased by 50 per cent. from the very low figure of 1945 to which inevitable war-time restrictions had reduced it. Nor can anyone blame the Opposition. As long ago as February, 1950, we warned the Minister of the situation that was developing and we urged that action should be taken, alike on the grounds of the benefit to the horticultural industry and of the great and urgent issue of national defence. But a whole year has gone by before there is any indication, in February of this year, of the Government beginning to have second thoughts on the question of tinplate allocations. The ways of planners are really beyond comprehension.
Two weeks ago in this House we had a debate on the virtual elimination of the meat ration, the no meat debate, and we had a discussion on the cessation of meat imports from the Argentine in August, 1950. Tonight we have another debate in which the Argentine Agreement is once more a very relevant factor, a debate which does in part turn on the Treaty signed with the Argentine in 1949–50. Although we are not getting any meat at all from the Argentine we have in fact doubled our tinplate exports to the Argentine between 1949 and 1950. Indeed, the exports last year to the 1975 Argentine were about 32,000 tons of tinplate, enough to pack 150,000 tons of meat if the Argentine meat had come back in cans made from the tinplate.
I would remind the Minister of Food that the export to the Argentine of tinplate last year, some 32,000 tons, is one half of the 64,000 tons we had in 1949 for the entire canning of the British fruit and vegetable production of that year. One half of our requirements for the vital horticultural industry were last year exported to the Argentine, although we have had no meat whatever from the Argentine since August, 1950. What we are asking for is to go back to the allocation of tinplate to home horticulture of the 1949 figure, which surely is not a very unreasonable request. We might have hoped that each succeeding year would bring an improvement on the previous year.
§ Mr. Boothby
My hon. Friend said the home horticultural industry. It is not only horticulture, but fish as well.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
If I were in danger of forgetting the interests of the Scottish fisherman, my hon. Friend, in an admirable speech, would certainly have reminded me of my omission—
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
And the English fisherman also. That is the situation we have now to face. We are concerned not only as to how it has been brought about but how we are to improve upon it. Not long ago we had words of wisdom from the Lord President of the Council:The real problem of statesmanship is to see trouble coming and to prevent ourselves getting into the smash. We are determined that we"—that is, the Socialist Government—are not going to be caught unawares by blind economic forces.Once more here they are caught by blind economic forces in this as in every other field. The Government have absolute control over the allocation of tinplate. I do not think anyone will dispute that. They have a tinplate administrator and a Government Materials Committee which settles the allocations.
The trouble is that so many Ministers have different sorts of ambitions as to 1976 what is to happen to the limited supplies of tinplate, and all these Ministers are pulling in different directions. We have, for example, the Foreign Office deeply concerned and more than ever concerned since we made British Ambassadors into travelling buyers of meat in foreign countries. We have the Board of Trade with its obvious trading interests. We have as we heard today from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Supply, the Minister of Fuel and Power and his own tinplate interest in the export of tinplate for the urgent oil industry in the sterling area. We have the Ministry of Food with a twofold interest—one in the canning of home-produced food and the other for export of tinplate for packing goods to be sent here for the British market.
It is our view that all these different interests are continually conflicting and whichever Minister makes the most noise, he is the Minister who, wins. Unhappily every indication in this debate is that the Minister of Food has lost. If I deal mostly with the horticultural industry it is because that is the industry of which I know most, being an East Anglian Member of Parliament and representing a constituency with a large horticultural interest. But there are many aspects of this problem and in the short time I shall occupy the Committee I hope to deal a little with them. There has been a steady decline in the allocation of tinplate to British horticulture in the last year or so. Some of the figures we know because they have been published but some we can only conjecture and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able to give us a firmer indication than we enjoy at the moment.
We know, for example, that in the third quarter of 1950 there was a reduction of 10 per cent. of the 1949 figures. We know there was a reduction in the fourth quarter of 25 per cent. We were told by the right hon. Gentleman last week, or the week before, that in the first quarter of this year there will be a reduction of 20 per cent. compared with the same period last year, which also represented a substantial reduction on the 1949 figures. It is rumoured that in the second quarter of this year there is to be a reduction again of 15 per cent. and in the third quarter a reduction of 17½ per cent. It would be interesting, and indeed it is 1977 urgent, that the trade and all concerned and Parliament should know whether those figures are right or not. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able either to confirm or to deny them.
It has been constantly represented in the course of the debate that too much tinplate is being exported. I believe that is true. Since 1945 exports of tinplate have jumped from 34,000 tons to 248,000 tons while there has been only the most trifling addition to the allocation for the home market. No one can accuse the Opposition of not realising the importance of exports. We have never shared the view of the Minister of Labour that:By some twist of the Tory mind it is good trade to persuade someone in a remote part of the world to buy our goods"—was he thinking of the tinplate plant at Ebbw Vale?—but it is ruinous to allow the same goods to be consumed by our own people.We believe in exports but all we asked for in the Coalition Government when that charge was made was an increase of 50 per cent. in the exports. This is a 700 per cent. increase, and this is a time when for the safety of British defence and the agricultural and fishing industries we should allow more to the home producer.
I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for East Aberdeenshire (Mr. Boothby) and my noble Friend the Member for Lanark (Lord Dunglass) that there has been far too great an increase in exports and it is intolerable that we should, since the Argentine ceased sending us any meat at all, have sent them 13,000 tons of the tinplate we so desperately need.
In the Dominion field and the field of the British Colonies no one would grudge these exports at all. We are delighted that Australia and South Africa, and in time other parts of the Empire, will be building their own tinplate plants, which will ease the situation. I would however remind the Minister of Food, if he makes much comment on Dominion allocations that Australia is now taking less than she took in 1938 or 1939 and that in the pre-war period Canada took 50,000 tons every year from us and now there is no export from us to Canada at all, or virtually none at all. So the whole story cannot be explained by a rise in exports to the Dominions.
1978 My hon. Friend the Member for Canterbury referred to the figures of January this year. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Supply said that there had been an increase of exports overseas this January due to a back-log which had accumulated towards the end of last year. If that is true it may well provide an explanation for some of the large export figures of January, 1951. I should be grateful if the Minister of Food could tell us if this also applies to the Argentine, because in December of last year we exported 1,617 tons to the Argentine. In January of this year we doubled it to 3,248, and an examination of the Trade and Navigation Returns does not suggest that there has, as yet, been any cut in Argentine exports. We would welcome an assurance that that cut is impending. I should also like some information about the exports to Russia on which there has been a curious silence during the last few months. My information is, and I stand to be corrected, that in 1949 we exported 2,800 tons to Russia and this year in the first three months directives have gone out for the exports to Russia of some 1,800 tons. I think we should have some information on that story.
My hon. Friends have drawn attention to the disastrous effect that this cut in home allocation has had on British horticulture. I know that industry very well. I know they were ruled out of the Agriculture Act of 1947, though they were promised that later effective security would be given to them. I know the soft fruit industry is doing its utmost to reach the target set by the Government and the vegetable industry is, under great difficulty and after two bad years, maintaining the high figure reached in 1947. Yet they have no security and nothing to hope for from His Majesty's Government. I would commend to those hon. Members on the Government side who spoke in effect, in support of our attitude to note the recently issued handbook for Socialist speakers, "Facts and Figures for Socialists," 1951, which says:Horticulturists are now enjoying a period of sustained prosperity.That comes after two bad years. Because of the lack of security large numbers of contracts have been entered into by growers in East Anglia and all over the United Kingdom with manufacturers and canners and jam makers. They are 1979 depending on this source of outlet to take a considerable amount of their production. Yet this year the allocation of tinplate to canners is to be so drastically cut that it looks as if some 75,000 tons of home-produced fruit and vegetables may be unsold or sold as food for stock. If this is so we shall find we have struck a very serious blow indeed at the chances of the industry of successfully weathering the year that lies ahead.
I would remind the Minister of Food that every ton of tinplate taken from British horticulture or British fish canning means the loss of some three tons either of fish—where I imagine the same figure applies—or fruit or vegetables. Of course, as hon. Members have said, it is particularly in the field of pea production and pea canning that the most serious troubles are likely to arise. The stories told by the hon. and gallant Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Colonel Gomme-Duncan) of the closing of factories in his constituency can be confirmed by hon. Members representing constituencies in other parts of the United Kingdom. Taking the Smedley group of companies alone, I know very well that if they had been able to get the cans, they could, both in Scotland and in England, have gone on packing sometimes either carrots, or beetroots or processed peas until May of this year until the fresh fruit and vegetables came along.
As has been said, this shortage is not only in the sphere of tinplate; it applies also to horticultural packing materials, through the whole field of materials; and the speech made by the President of the Board of Trade at Olympia about a fortnight ago offers no hope of much improvement. Most hon. Members will be conscious that it is in the field of defence that the greatest danger lies. I was lucky enough in the early days of the war to be Under-Secretary both in the Department of Home Security and the then newly formed Ministry of Food. I know something of the immense amount of work that went into collecting the vast quantity of tinned food, both for the Army at home and for the Army overseas and for the civilian population, and I shudder to think of what would happen if we found ourselves in desperate danger without similar preparations being made today.
1980 We all hoped that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Supply would give us some encouragement. We hoped he would say something of the long-term plan in regard to home users. He told us about long-term production, but did not give us any indication as to how the home user will fare. We have heard of the new plant at Trostre to which we all wish success, but the Parliamentary Secretary gave no indication if any of that production is to be allotted to the home producer. I hope that the Minister will be able to give us some indication. It will fall to the right hon. Gentleman to give us some assurance also on the short-term field, but from all we have heard it does not look as though we are to get much encouragement.
I seriously suggest to him that he should try to secure with his colleagues agreement on at least these three simple, fundamental issues. Firstly that when he imports canned food from overseas that the necessary tinplate is not taken out of the domestic allocation of the Ministry of Food; secondly that when he imports tinned goods from abroad he does not import goods which are competitive to what we can produce at home. Nothing is more maddening to the home producer than to lose his chance of a market and to see the goods and the tinplate arriving on his doorstep from abroad. Lastly I hope the right hon. Gentleman will struggle with his colleagues to get a greater allocation for the home market for this coming year.
We are asking him to give us today, in horticulture and fish and all the other trades, the same allocation as in 1949. We are not asking him to face the future. We learned from the Lord President that we have turned our backs on economic scarcity. We are not even asking him to do what they did in the capitalist days. All we are asking is to be given the allocation we had two years ago under Socialism. That seems a fairly reasonable request, but from the indications, it does not look as though the right hon. Gentleman will grant it.
My hon. Friends and myself feel that this issue is of such importance that we shall have to divide the Committee upon it. I am anxious, however, not to limit the speech of the right hon. Gentleman in reply. So we shall wait until he has finished his speech before I move to 1981 reduce the item. If of course the right hon. Gentleman can meet in full the position we have put to him, sustained as we have been by many speeches from hon. Members on his own side of the Committee, we shall have to consider among ourselves what action we should then take.
§ 6.40 p.m.
§ The Minister of Food (Mr. Maurice Webb)
I wish I could start my contribution to this debate on the confident assumption that anything I have to say would lead to no Division taking place; but I am convinced that a Division will take place whatever I say. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Let us wait and see. I will try to give such information as I can. I do not complain about this debate taking place, nor, indeed, about the spirit in which it has taken place. Since it happens to be my job to represent certain interests that are strong claimants on our supplies of tinplate, obviously I am not likely to object to pressure for more home supplies.
I have been greatly interested to hear reflections of some arguments which I have used myself from time to time in recent months in other places. Nor do I want to disguise the fact that I would have wished for more. I would have hoped that it would have been possible for the home producers of food to have been provided with more tinplate. I am talking about tinplate, because that has become the major issue of the debate. I do not think that we need worry about the other materials, although they are equally important. We really cannot escape facts. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Supply convinced the Committee that we face a complex situation. It has been a complex situation ever since I became Minister of Food.
On the first or second day after I took on this job, tinplate appeared on my desk as a problem to be faced arising out of the inescapable decline in production in our tinplate industry. I am now trying to answer the suggestion that this situation is due to some sort of neglect, or indifference, some sort of sitting down by Ministers and a failure to recognise their responsibilities. I recognised the effect and impact of this situation on my own job early in the summer, and I suggested that we might send a special mission to South Wales to try to solve, or, at least, to ameliorate, the grievous situation there.
1982 The Parliamentary Secretary gave some indication of the way in which there has been an erosion of labour in that industry through reasons that none of us can help. They are not due to any party philosophy, but just to ordinary developments which happen in the process of time. People just do not care much for work in this kind of industry. We undertook a special mission, which had some success. It also had some success in getting some Italian labour into the hand-mills, and I am grateful to my right hon. Friend the former Minister of Labour for his cooperation. But, on the whole, as I think the Parliamentary Secretary showed, we have not been able, in the field of recruiting labour, to do more than hold the line. We have been able fairly well to keep the labour force roughly where it is to compensate for the wastage which has taken place.
I am trying to show that we have been looking at this problem continuously for some months. In addition, last summer the Ministry of Food, when faced with the very serious emergency in the soft-fruit trade, arranged for an emergency issue of tinplate to the canners in Suffolk and other areas. On the whole, I think that they were satisfied with that emergency operation. Ever since last August, I have had frequent meetings with the trade to discuss the situation as it developed and to try to find out with them ways and means of making the best of the amount of tinplate available for home use. In consultation with the trade, we set up a permanent committee of trade representatives who are available for daily consultation with the Ministry of Food to solve the kind of problems mentioned here today, such as specific allocations. During the last six or eight months we have been able to iron out a whole series of problems of that kind with the good will and co-operation of the trade.
I have had assurances, in correspondence from the representatives of the fruit canning industry, of their satisfaction with the way in which we have tried to deal with this problem and to help them in the difficulties which they have to face. I have been asked in the debate why, if our own needs for tinplate are so great, we continue to export this commodity. It is an obvious question to which there is a very simple answer. Trade is a two-way affair. If we want imports from 1983 abroad, we must sell our customers what they want. We cannot be dictatorial in this matter. We must try to arrive at agreement with them. One of the articles which is wanted by the people from whom we want goods is British tinplate. It is, in fact, one of our strongest bargaining counters. [HON. MEMBERS: "What about coal?"] I am talking about tinplate for the moment. Let us confine ourselves to this particular subject.
The practical problem before us has been, and will continue to be, how to apportion our supplies between home requirements and exports. The Committee must recognise that a large part of our export of tinplate is sent abroad to pack food which we urgently need in this country. Some figures were given earlier. Let me give some more to show in detail how this rather ridiculed export of tinplate is used to bring food here. The programme of exports for food packs in 1950 was 38,223 tons. Of this, 14,000 tons went to South America for canned corned beef. I will come to the Argentine later. Also, 6,500 tons went to Denmark for meat and milk; 6,500 tons went to French Morocco for sardines; 4,500 tons went to Ireland for meat and milk; 825 tons went to Poland for frozen eggs; 2,300 tons went to Norway for fish; 700 tons went to Sweden for fish, and 500 tons went to Spain for tomatoes.
All these are articles of food which we need to supplement the diet of our people. In addition, we have entered into trading agreements with a large number of these countries in which they themselves have required us to give them supplies of this commodity before they were ready to agree to give us certain commodities which we wanted from them. Let us now look at what is called, rather oddly, free tinplate.
§ Mr. Molson
One of the main criticisms, which, perhaps, was made while the Minister was not here, was about the importation of fish from Norway and so on, which was regarded as being in direct competition with our own products. Is it or is it not the case that the Minister made an extremely bad buy in brisling?
§ Air Commodore Harvey (Macclesfield)
The right hon. Gentleman said that something like 3,000 tons of tinplate went to Scandinavia last year for fish. He must know perfectly well that at the same time last year tens of thousands of British-caught fish went for manure from British ports.
§ Mr. Webb
Probably the hon. and gallant Gentleman has pressed us on occasions about newsprint. We want Scandinavian pulp to make newsprint. They want to send that to us, and we have to arrive at some sort of agreement with them. In settling these agreements, we have to arrive at this kind of arrangement. This is one of the questions which is worked out on a normal basis. There is really nothing to worry about.
To come to the question of free tinplate, we really cannot seek to dictate to the countries with whom we enter into these trade agreements as to the use they will make of the tinplate we send to them. That, surely, would be a gross interference with their sovereign rights. We cannot say, "We will let you have this tinplate only if you use it for certain purposes." What we have done is to limit the amount of free tinplate; to leave it to them to use it in the way they think best, and to try to solve the problem of supplies in the general framework of our trading agreements. I think our trading agreements have given adequate protection to all the producing interests of this country, and, at the same time, have looked after our consumer interests, which are not less important.
May I also say that most of this free tinplate has, in fact, gone to the Dominions, and that it would really cause very serious difficulties in our relationships with the Dominions, and particularly the Southern Dominions, if we were to deprive them of the supplies of tinplate which they urgently need. I was asked to give figures about the Colonies. Of the total amount of these exports of free tinplate 10 per cent. has gone to the Colonies; the amount is 14,000 tons. Surely hon. Members opposite will not suggest that we should deprive the industries of our Colonies, on which we are to depend in the long run, of this essential element in the production of food?
§ Mr. Webb
All right, then; there must be some free exports of tinplate.
I now come to the main controversial point about the Argentine. I quite understand the anxiety on the point of our continuing to export tinplate to the Argentine. The short answer is that we have obligations to do so under the five-year trade and payments agreement of 1949, and, of course, part of the supply is used for our imports of canned corned beef. About two-thirds of the supply to the Argentine was, in fact, sent to pack our own imports of canned corned beef.
Let me now come to the effects of the present position, which is what is troubling everyone most at present. In the current year, under the agreement beginning 1st July last, Argentina has received her full proportionate amount for the first three quarters; that is, up to 31st March, 1951. But we have decided to curtail seriously the amount of the last quarter of the contract year. It has been decided to deliver only 4,500 tons, which is 3,000 tons less than the obligated amount. This decision was taken in the light of our recent negotiations. It might have been taken earlier, but we ourselves felt that, since we were discussing that agreement, it was not for us to take a provocative act like breaking the agreement until it was absolutely necessary. A mission is on its way—
§ Squadron Leader Burden (Gillingham)
Is it not a fact that, under the agreement which the Minister has quoted, Argentina did, in fact, undertake—or so the Minister said—to supply us with 85 per cent. of their exportable surplus of carcase meat? If that is the case, why was the continuation of the export of tinplate carried on when they had abrogated that agreement?
§ Mr. Webb
There were, of course, points of difference between us. A mission is now on its way to Argentina, and I hope that we shall all agree that it would be inadvisable for me to say anything more about it. We have cancelled our immediate obligations to Argentina, and, as this particular matter will be the subject of further discussion, I hope we shall agree to leave it there.
The main concern expressed during the debate seems to have been about what is to happen now. What is really important, and what we should get quite clear, 1986 is that the amount of tinplate available for the home food industry this year will not be less than last year; that is, 270,000 tons. I wish it could have been more, but, in the present situation, I myself feel relieved to find that, at least, it will not be less. It is quite true that it is a tight figure; there is no margin, and it will be a hard job to allocate the quantity between all the people with canning interests in this country. But we got by last year, and I have no reason to suppose that, given the good will of the industry and the close, detailed consultations that we now have with it, we cannot get by this year as well, without undue disturbance.
Let us remember that we have additional requirements in 1951. During the present year, we must use our tinplate with these same priorities in mind. There are, first of all, the needs of the Armed Forces, which, because of defence measures, will involve the use of three times as much tinplate this year as in 1950. That is important, not only in regard to the needs of our Armed Forces, but also to increase the reserves of tinned food which they must carry in cases of emergency, and, of course, it is important to our general current stockpiling programme. Second, it is still the policy of the Government to expand exports to dollar markets as much as we can, and included in these exports are exports of tinned foods. That is a very valuable dollar-earning trade, and we still have to earn dollars. Then there are those other needs, which are causing so much concern in the House today and which, indeed, have caused so much concern in the Ministry of Food in recent months—the needs of the home market.
I myself, although I am not satisfied with all we have done, believe that on the whole we have arrived at a fair balance between all these conflicting claims on an inevitably inadequate supply. The problem in our own country is that there is a growing demand for home canned food. Even assuming that all the natural foods had been available, there is, in fact—it is one of the developments of modern life —an increasing demand for canned foods. Everything else being equal, we would have looked forward in this year to an extension of the output of home canned foods. It seems to me that, in the way the situation has developed, the position 1987 this year is likely to be as follows. We shall be able to hold the line where it is, but we shall not be able to extend or increase it to what we would have wanted or otherwise would have hoped.
The Minister has given an indication of cuts which are to be made in supplies to Argentina, but they are a comparatively small proportion of the total of 100,000 tons of tinplate exports. May I ask him whether, in regard to Egypt, Russia and some other countries, there are to be any substantial cuts that could make a total of 9,000 tons in the next year, which, with the Argentine cut of 3,000 tons, will produce an ultimate total of 12,000 tons, which will be sufficient for the canning industry?
§ Mr. Webb
I am glad to hear that we are getting the Argentine position in proportion, because, in reality, it is a small figure against the background of the total figure. I am coming to the Russian figures, athough I regret that I have not got the figures for the other countries. I can say, however, that cuts will also take place in exports to the Scandinavian countries—Denmark, Sweden and others. I do not know about Egypt, but other cuts have been made. We have been trying to get some sort of balance over the whole field.
The hon. Member for Eye (Mr. Granville) asked if military stockpiling was likely to lead to a reduced supply of canned food for the home consumer. No, Sir, I think not. For the reasons I have given, the situation will not permit an extension of supplies that might otherwise have taken place, but, even on this new estimate of our resources, I think we can maintain the present supplies of canned foods.
The hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Mr. Boothby), suggested that we should cut tinplate exports to soft currency countries until the shortage has been overcome, but that is an impossible suggestion. We just cannot tell people that they must accept less in that sort of temporary way, and tell them that, because, for two months, we are in difficulties, we shall reduce their supplies. We will never get on well with any foreign country if we go about our business in that loose and untidy way.
1988 The hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Baker White), who opened the debate, did so with a speech that was very fair and reasonable and which was directed to the nature of the problem, to which I want to reply. He said that we were exporting tinplate to France so that we could get peas. That is quite wrong. No tinplate goes to France, nor is it intended to send any there.
Two points of some importance were raised by the hon. and gallant Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Colonel Gomme-Duncan) and by the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. D. Marshall), both of whom raised serious local questions concerning the closing of factories. The hon. Member for Bodmin also raised the question of the continued employment of labour. I would like to go into these particular problems in detail to see if there is some way of dealing with the situation, but, beyond that, I cannot say more tonight.
My hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, South-West (Mr. Dye), wanted us to ensure that all our allocations of tinplate, and sugar, I think, he said, are confined to home production. But how can one insist on that without a system of bureaucracy and regimentation which would go beyond anything I could ever visualise? It would really mean a dictation to the private manufacturer that I would not want to contemplate; and, even if we were ready to impose that kind of watch over what the manufacturer was doing, I am sure it would be quite impossible to administer under any regulation I could think of.
The hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Lennox-Boyd) raised a specific question about Russia. He asked whether or not we were sending tinplate to Russia. The position is that in the first quarter of this year, 1,800 tons of tinplate were sent to Russia in order to pack food coming to this country—[HON. MEMBERS: "Crab."]—which we are glad to have, and which we can sell.
§ Mr. Webb
I cannot say offhand, but there was no free export of tinplate in that quarter. But the more important thing is that for the second quarter of the current year there is to be no export at all of tinplate of any kind to Russia.
1989 On the general question of unemployment in the canning industry, although I am very conscious of the fact that there is difficulty there, I feel that the picture was somewhat overdrawn. After all, there is in this particular trade a seasonal occupational unemployment arising from the fluctuation in supplies. The truth is that the amount of unemployment that has taken place this year, although greater than normal is, as far as I can judge from the information at my disposal, not seriously greater than in previous years. But, in any event, I can give the House the assurance that, supplies of tinplate being broadly comparable with those available last year—although there will, of course, be some diversion for Service purposes, and so on—there should be no additional unemployment in this industry because of our limited supplies of that commodity. If there are any particular problems in a certain area, I would like to look into them.
I have tried, as far as I can, to cover the general ground raised in this debate, a debate for which, I repeat, I am not ungrateful, because it has raised again a matter which we must regard as of immense importance. I would assure the Committee that it is my intention and that of the Ministry of Food to co-operate as closely as possible with other Ministries in securing a fair and effective distribution of such supplies of tinplate as are available to us. But I must point out that no one in the debate, so far as I
§ know—and I have heard most of the speeches—has said what he would have done. At least on this occasion we have not heard the cry, "Return it to the private trade," or that this shortage is all due to bulk buying. All we have heard is the simple and rather obvious allegation that it is all due to the incompetence of His Majesty's Ministers.
§ Such allegations about muddle and mismanagement are easy to come by. If they make hon. Members opposite happy, all right, but they do not solve the problem. The problem still remains, and it is only one of a number which inevitably arise from the straining of our depleted resources in the post-war world. It is inherent in the present situation. I claim that we have done all that was humanly possible to reduce the effect of this situation on our trading processes, and that we have secured a fair balance between our home requirements and our overseas requirements in apportioning our supplies of tinplate. Therefore, if we have to have a Division—and I suppose we have—I hope the House will support the Government in the course they have taken.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 284; Noes, 294.1993
|Division No. 43.]||AYES||[7.10 p.m.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. w||Darling, Sir W. Y. (Edinburgh, S.)|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Brooke, H. (Hampstead)||Davidson, Viscountess|
|Amery, J. (Preston, N.)||Browne, J. N. (Govan)||Davies, Nigel (Epping)|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Buchan-Hepburn, P, G. T||de Chair, S.|
|Arbuthnot, John||Bullock, Capt. M.||De la Bère, R|
|Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)||Bullus, Wing Commander E, E.||Deedes, W F.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)||Burden, Squadron Leader F. A||Digby, S. Wingfield|
|Astor, Hon. M.||Butcher, H. W.||Dodds-Parker, A. D|
|Baldock, J. M.||Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (S'ffr'n W'ld'n)||Donner, P. W.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Douglas-Hamilton, Lord M|
|Banks, Col. C.||Carson, Hon. E.||Drayson, G. B.|
|Baxter, A. B.||Channon, H.||Dugdale, Maj. Sir T (Richmond)|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H||Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S.||Duncan, Capt. J. A. L|
|Bell, R. M.||Clarke, Col. R. S. (East Grinstead)||Dunglass, Lord|
|Bennett, Sir P. (Edgbaston)||Clarke, Brig. T. H. (Portsmouth, W)||Duthie W. S.|
|Bennett, R. F. B. (Gosport)||Clyde, J. L.||Eden, Rt. Hon A|
|Bennett, W. G. (Woodside)||Colegate, A.||Elliot, Lieut.-Col Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Bevins, J. R. (Liverpool, Toxteth)||Conant, Maj. R. J. E,||Erroll, F. J.|
|Birch, Nigel||Cooper, A, E. (Ilford, S.)||Fisher, Nigel|
|Bishop, F. P.||Cooper-Key, E. M.||Fletcher, W. (Bury)|
|Black, C. W.||Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)||Fort, R.|
|Boles, U.-Col. D C. (Wells)||Craddock, G. B. (Spelthorne)||Foster, J. G,|
|Boothby, R.||Cranborne, Viscount||Fraser, Hon. H. C. P. (Stone)|
|Bossom, A. C||Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C||Fraser, Sir I. (Moreeambe & Lonsdale)|
|Bower, N.||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E||Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A||Crouch, R. F.||Gage, C. H.|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Crowder, F, P. (Ruislip-Northwood)||Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok)|
|Bracken, Rt. Hon. Brendan||Crowder, Capt. John F. E. (Finchley)||Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)|
|Braine, B.||Cundiff, F. W.||Gammans, L. D.|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G||Cuthbert, W. N.||Garner-Evans, E. H. (Denbigh)|
|Gates, Maj. E. E.||Low, A. R. W.||Ropner, Col. L.|
|Glyn, Sir R.||Lucas, Major Sir J. (Portsmouth, S.)||Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. A||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)||Russell, R. S.|
|Granville, E. (Eye)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H||Ryder, Capt, R. E. D.|
|Grimston, Hon. J. (St. Albans)||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.|
|Grimston, R. V (Westbury)||McAdden, S. J.||Savory, Prof. D. L.|
|Harden, J R. E.||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.||Scott, Donald|
|Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridgs)||Macdonald, Sir P (I. of Wight)||Shepherd, W. S. (Cheadle)|
|Harris, F W. (Croydon, N.)||McKibbin, A.||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W.|
|Harris, R. R. (Heston)||McKie, J. H (Calloway)||Smith, E. Martin (Grantham)|
|Harvey, Ah Codre. A. V. (Macclesfield)||Maclay, Hon. J. S||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||Maclean, F. H. R||Smithers, Sir W. (Orpington)|
|Harvie-Watt, Sir G. S||MacLeod, Iain (Enfield, W.)||Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)|
|Hay, John||MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)||Snadden, W. McN.|
|Head, Brig. A. H||Macmillan Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)||Soames, Capt. C|
|Heald, L. F.||Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Heath, E. R.||Maitland, Comdr. J. W||Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)|
|Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Manningham-Buller, R. E||Spans. Sir P (Kensington. S)|
|Hicks-Beach, Maj w. W||Marlowe, A. A. H||Stanley, Capt. Hon. R. (N Fylde)|
|Higgs, J. M. C.||Marples, A. E.||Stevens, G. P|
|Hill, Mrs. E (Wythenshawe)||Marshall, D. (Bodmin)||Steward, W. A (Woolwich, W.)|
|Hill, Dr. C. (Luton)||Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Maude, A. E. U. (Ealing, S.)||Stoddart-Scott, Col M|
|Hirst, Geoffrey||Maude, J. C. (Exeter)||Storey, S|
|Hollis, M. C.||Maudling, R.||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)|
|Holmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich)||Medlicott, Brigadier F||Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)|
|Hope, Lord J.||Mellor, Sir J.||Studholme, H. G.|
|Hopkinson, H. L. D'A.||Molson, A. H. E.||Summers, G. S.|
|Hornsby-Smith, Miss P.||Monckton, Sir Walter||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence||Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Howard, G. R. (St. Ives)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)||Taylor, W. J. (Bradford, N)|
|Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Mott-Radclyffe. C E||Teeling, William|
|Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)||Nabarro, G.||Teevan, L. T.|
|Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Nicholls, H.||Thomas, J P. L. (Hereford)|
|Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)||Nicholson, G.||Thompson, K. P. (Walton)|
|Hulbert, Wing Cdr. N J||Nield, B. (Chester)||Thompson, R. H. M. (Croydon. W.)|
|Hurd, A. R.||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P||Thorneycroft, G. E. P, (Monmouth)|
|Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)||Nugent, G. R. H.||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|Hutchison, Col. J. R. H. (Scotstoun)||Nutting, Anthony||Thorp, Brigadier R. A. E.|
|Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M.||Oakshott, H. D.||Tilney, John|
|Hylton-Foster, H. B.||Odey, G. W.||Touche, G. C|
|Jeffreys, General Sir G||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H.||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Jennings, R.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.||Turton, R. H|
|Johnson, Howard S. (Kemptown)||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Jones, A. (Hall Green)||Orr-Ewing, Ian L. (Weston-super-Mare)||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.||Osborne, C.||Vaughan-Morgan, J K|
|Kaberry, D.||Peake, Rt. Hon. O||Vosper, D. F.|
|Keeling, E. H.||Perkins, W. R. D.||Wakefield, E. B (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Kerr, H. W. (Cambridge)||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.||Walker-Smith, D. C.|
|Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W. H||Pickthorn, K.||Ward, Hon. G. R. (Worcester)|
|Lambert, Hon. G.||Pitman, I. J.||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|Lancaster, Col. C. G||Powell, J. Enoch||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C|
|Langford-Holt, J||Price, H. A. (Lewisham, W.)||Watkinson, H.|
|Law, Rt. Hon. R. K||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O||Webbe, Sir. H. (London)|
|Leather, E. H. C.||Profumo, J. D.||Wheatley, Major M. J. (Poole)|
|Legge-Bourke, Mai. E. A. H.||Raikes, H. V.||White, J. Baker (Canterbury)|
|Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Rayner, Brig. R||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Lindsay, Martin||Redmayne, M.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbriage)|
|Linstead, H. N.||Renton, D. L. M.||Williams, Sir H. G. (Croydon, E)|
|Llewellyn, D.||Roberts, P. G. (Heeley)||Wills, G.|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (King's Norton)||Robertson, Sir D. (Caithness)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Robinson, J. Roland (Blackpool, S.)||Winterton, Rt. Hon Earl|
|Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)||Robson-Brown, W. (Esher)||Wood, Hon. R|
|Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)||York, C.|
|Longden, G. J. M. (Herts. S. W.)||Roper, Sir H.|
|TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Mr. Drewe and Brigadier Mackeson.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Bunn, Hon. A. N. Wedgwood||Broughton, Dr. A. D. D|
|Adams, Richard||Benson, G||Brown, George (Belper)|
|Albu, A. H.||Beswick, F.||Brown, T. J, (Ince)|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Burke, W. A.|
|Aden, Scholefield (Crewe)||Bing, G. H. C.||Burton, Miss E.|
|Anderson, A. (Motherwell)||Blenkinsop, A.||Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Blyton, W. R.||Callaghan, James|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R||Boardman, H||Carmichael, James|
|Awbery, S. S.||Booth, A.||Castle, Mrs. B. A|
|Ayles, W. H||Bottomley, A. G.||Champion, A. J.|
|Bacon, Miss A||Bowden, H. W.||Chetwynd, G. R|
|Baird, J.||Bowles, F G. (Nuneaton)||Clunie, J.|
|Balfour, A.||Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Cocks, F. S|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.||Brockway, A. Fenner||Coldrick, W|
|Bartley, P.||Brook, D. (Halifax)||Collick, P.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Brooks, T. J. (Normanton)||Cook, T. F.|
|Cooper, G. (Middlesbrough, W.)||Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)||Pryde, D. J.|
|Cooper, J. (Deptford)||Isaacs, Rt. Hon, G. A.||Pursey, Comdr. H.|
|Cove, W. G.||Janner, B.||Rankin, J.|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Jay, D. P. T,||Rees, Mrs. D.|
|Crawley, A.||Jeger, G. (Goole)||Reeves, J.|
|Crosland, C. A. R||Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St Pancras, S)||Reid, T. (Swindon)|
|Crossman, R. H. S||Jenkins, R H.||Reid, W. (Camlachie)|
|Cutlen, Mrs. A||Johnson, James (Rugby)||Rhodes, H.|
|Daines, P.||Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)||Richards, R.|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Jones, D. T. (Hartlepool)||Robens, A.|
|Dalling, G (Hillsboro')||Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)|
|Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.)||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Jones, William Elwyn (Conway)||Rogers, G. H. R, (Kensington, N.)|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Keenan, W||Ross, William (Kilmarnock)|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Kenyon, C||Royle, C.|
|Deer, G.||Key, Rt. Hon C. W.||Shackleton, E. A. A.|
|Delargy, H. J.||Kinghorn, Sqn. Ldr. E.||Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir. H.|
|Diamond, J.||Kinley, J.||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Dodds, N. N.||Kirkwood, Rt. Hon. D.||Shurmer, P. L. E.|
|Donnelly, D.||Lang, Rev. G||Silverman, J. (Erdington)|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||Lee, f. (Newton)||Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)|
|Dye, S.||Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)||Simmons, C. J|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Lever, L. M (Ardwick)||Slater, J.|
|Edelman, M.||Lever, N. H. (Cheetham)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. N (Caerphilly)||Lewis, A. W. J (West Ham, N.)||Smith, H N. (Nottingham, S)|
|Edwards, W J. (Stepney)||Lindgren, G. S.||Snow, J. W.|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W)||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Evans, E. (Lowestoft)||Longden, F. (Small Heath)||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir F.|
|Evans, S. N (Wednesbury)||MoAllister, G.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Ewart, R||MacColl, J. E||Steele, T.|
|Fernyhough, E.||MoGhee, H. G||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Field, Capt W J||McGovern, J.||Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.|
|Finch, H, J.||McInnes, J.||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Fletcher, E. G M (Islington, E.)||Mack, J. D.||Strauss, Rt. Hon. G. R (Vauxhall)|
|Follick, M,||McKay, J (Wallsend)||Stross, Dr. B.|
|Foot, M. M.||Mackay, R. W. G. (Reading, N)||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. Edith|
|Forman, J. C.||McLeavy, F.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Fraser, T (Hamilton)||MacMillan M. K. (Western Isles)||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)|
|Freeman, J. (Watford)||McNeil, Rt. Hon. H||Taylor, H. J. (Morpeth)|
|Freeman, Peter (Newport)||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Mainwaring, W. H.||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)|
|Ganley, Mrs. C S||Mallalieu, E. L (Brigg)||Thorneycrift, Harry (Clayton)|
|Gibson, C W||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Gilzean, A.||Mann, Mrs. J||Timmons, J.|
|Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||Manuel, A. C.||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon G|
|Gooch, E. G||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A||Tomney, F.|
|Greenwood, Anthony W J. (Rossendale)||Mathers, Rt. Hon. George|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur (Wakefield)||Mellish, R. J.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Grenfell, D. R.||Messer, F.||Ungoed-Thomas A L|
|Grey, C. F.||Middleton, Mrs. L||Vernon, Maj. W F.|
|Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Mikardo, Ian||Wallace, H. W|
|Viant, S. P.|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J (Llanelly)||Mitchison, G. R||Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford. C)|
|Griffiths, W. D. (Exchange)||Moeran, E. W.||Weitzman, D.|
|Gunter, R J||Monslow, W.||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Haire, John E. (Wycombe)||Moody, A. S.||Wells, W. T (Walsall)|
|Hale, J. (Rochdale)||Morgan, Dr. H. B.||West, D. G.|
|Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)||Morley, R.||Wheatley, Rt. Hn. John (Edinb gh, E.)|
|Hall, J (Gateshead, W.)||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)||White, Mrs. E. (E. Flint)|
|White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E)|
|Hall, Rt. Hn. W. Glenvil (Come V'll'y)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)|
|Hamilton, W W.||Mort, D. L.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Hannan, W||Moyle, A.||Wigg, George|
|Hardman, D. R||Mulley, F. W.||Wilcoek, Group Capt. C. A. B|
|Hardy, E. A.||Murray, J D||Wilkes, L.|
|Hargreaves, A||Neal, H.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Harrison, J||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Hastings, Dr Somerville||O'Brien, T.||Willey, D. G. (Cleveland)|
|Hayman, F. H.||Oldfield, W. H.||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Henderson, Rt. Hon A (Rowley Regis)||Oliver, G. H.||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)|
|Harbison. Miss. M.||Orbach, M.||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Hawitson, Capt M||Padley, W. E.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Hobson, C. R.||Paget, R. T.||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Holman, P||Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Dearne V'lly)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Huyton)|
|Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Winterbottom, I. (Nottingham, C.)|
|Houghton, Douglas||Pannell, T. C.||Winterbottom, R. E. (Brightside)|
|Hoy, J||Pargiter, G. A.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A|
|Hubbard, T||Parker, J.||Woods, Rev. G. S|
|Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, N.)||Paton, J.||Wyatt, W. L|
|Hughes, Emrys (S Ayr)||Pearson, A.||Yates, V. F.|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Peart, T. F.||Younger, Hon. Kenneth|
|Hughes, Moelwyn (Islington, N.)||Poole, Cecil|
|Hynd, H (Accrington)||Popplewell, E.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Hynd, J B (Attercliffe)||Porter, G.||Mr. Collindridge and|
|Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Proctor, W. T.||Mr. Kenneth Robinson.|
Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ Original Question again proposed.