HC Deb 03 July 1952 vol 503 cc601-2
15. Mr. W. T. Williams

asked the President of the Board of Trade the total tonnage of sugar exported during the past 12 months and at what average cost per ton, from Britain and the Colonies to countries in Western Europe who, in the same period, imported fondant into Great Britain; what was the total tonnage of such fondant imported into this country; and at what average price, per ton.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

Imports of fondant have been separately recorded in the trade returns only since 1st January this year. In the five months January to May, 1952, imports into the United Kingdom of fondant from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium and France, totalled 18,405 tons at an average c.i.f. value of £83 a ton. United Kingdom exports of refined sugar to these countries in January to May, 1952, were 1,610 tons at an average f.o.b. value of £53 a ton. No sugar is exported from the Colonies to Western Europe.

I should add that the sugar so exported is bought for dollars, refined in this country, and sold for hard currency at a profit. To stop these exports, therefore, would mean either the loss of a valuable processing trade which is a net earner of hard currency or an addition to our dollar import bill.

Mr. Williams

Will the right hon. Gentleman convey those facts to the Minister of Food, who told me a fortnight ago that this trade was being brought to an end? Is it not possible for the right hon. Gentleman's Department to bring about some relationship between the price for which sugar is sold and the price at which fondant is bought, because fondant is bought at twice the price at which sugar is sold? Thirdly, would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that in these circumstances something ought to be done to find some alternative trade in order to provide sugar for home industries, which are suffering seriously because of the lack of sugar, which is being sent to Western European countries?

Mr. Thorneycroft

The last question is, of course, a matter which should properly be addressed to my right hon. and gallant Friend the Minister of Food. On the point raised in the question, the answer is that this arrangement is a net earner of hard currency, which at present we certainly need.