HC Deb 31 May 1951 vol 488 cc385-6
15. Mr. Nabarro

asked the President of the Board of Trade how many standards of pit prop timber were consumed by the mining industry in Britain during 1950; what is the estimated consumption during each of the years 1951 and 1952; whether supplies of such pit prop timber from imported and indigenous sources will be adequate for the period forward to 31st December, 1952; and whether strategic stockpiles of such timber are to be established.

The President of the Board of Trade (Sir Hartley Shawcross)

It is not the practice to disclose the National Coal Board's consumption of pit prop timber, and I am not in a position to forecast what relation supplies of pit props will bear to demand over the next two years. Our requirements of pit props certainly include a prudent strategic reserve.

Mr. Nabarro

While I recognise the need for reticence on the right hon. and learned Gentleman's part, would the right hon. and learned Gentleman at least give the House an assurance that in view of our unhappy experiences in the last war, when our Baltic sources of supply for pit prop timber were closed to us, he will bear strategic stockpiling very closely in mind?

Sir H. Shawcross

The National Coal Board, like any other commercial undertaking, is entitled to preserve some reticence about its position, but I am certainly very much concerned to see that our imports of timber from different sources enable us to have proper regard for the considerations which the hon. Member naturally has in mind.

Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman bear in mind that the shortage of pit props caused us the greatest anxiety during the last war and placed a great strain upon our shipping resources in bringing them over longer lines of supply? Having regard to the great inroads made into our domestic resources, will he make a survey to see how far these have been replenished?

Sir H. Shawcross

I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman. I am, of course, keeping that matter under—

Sir H. Williams

Active consideration.

Sir H. Shawcross

No; that is a phrase I never use. I am keeping the matter under constant attention and I appreciate very fully the necessity of building up our stocks for this and other essential purposes.