HC Deb 31 May 1951 vol 488 cc386-7
16. Mr. Burden

asked the President of the Board of Trade what quantities of softwood and hardwood, respectively, were exported from the United Kingdom in 1950; and what proportion of these woods were suitable for use in the building trade.

Sir H. Shawcross

A total of 2,825 tons of United Kingdom timber were exported in 1950, 1,067 tons being sawn hardwood and 236 tons sawn softwood. During the same period 1,800 tons of imported hardwood and 343 tons of imported softwood were re-exported. I do not know whether any of the hardwood was suitable for use in the building trade but there is, of course, no shortage of hardwood for housing in this country. I presume that some of the softwood could have been used for building; but the quantity exported was insignificant and the bulk of it went to the Channel Islands and other Commonwealth countries.

Mr. Burden

Does the Minister not agree that this is a most extraordinary statement, in view of the fact that hon. Members opposite have consistently maintained that one of the bottlenecks in the building industry is a shortage of timber? In view of that, will the Minister give an undertaking that no wood suitable for building houses in this country will be exported until the houses have been provided here?

Sir H. Shawcross

We have certain responsibilities towards the Channel Islands and, indeed towards other Commonwealth countries which the hon. Member appears to have forgotten. But, in spite of that fact, the tonnage of softwood exported to those areas was quite insignificant in relation to the total building programme.