HC Deb 29 July 1952 vol 504 cc1259-60
37. Mr. Osborne

asked the President of the Board of Trade how much tobacco in volume and in value it is proposed to import this year from dollar sources; and what were the corresponding figures for last year.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

Imports into the United Kingdom of unmanufactured tobacco from the United States, Canada and Cuba are expected to amount in 1952 to some 103,500,000 lb., a reduction of 56 per cent. on imports of 233,740,933 lb. from these sources in 1951.

Mr. Osborne

Owing to the noise I could not quite hear the figure mentioned by my right hon. Friend, but I think it was a figure of 103 million pounds. In view of the fact that the dollar gap is not likely to be filled by our exports to the dollar markets, would it not be better to use the rare dollars we have to buy necessary food and cut out tobacco imports altogether from the market?

Mr. Thorneycroft

My hon. Friend missed the most satisfactory part of my answer. There has been a reduction of 56 per cent.

Mr. Osborne

That is only half a loaf and I am asking for the whole of the loaf.

Mr. Mikardo

Would it not be best to stop altogether our imports of manufactured tobacco, including cigarettes, from dollar sources, because even though the amount is small it seems to be a waste of dollars.

Mr. Thorneycroft

That is a different question.

Mr. Jay

Can we take it that the policy of this Government is the same as the policy of the last Government, to increase the imports of tobacco coming from non-dollar sources?

Mr. Thorneycroft

The arrangements for substitution are proceeding as they have for some years.