HC Deb 10 June 1952 vol 502 cc16-7
28 Mr. Shepherd

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) the percentage of Empire tobacco now used in the manufacture of cigarettes in the United Kingdom;

(2) the average price paid for Empire tobacco and the average price paid for American tobacco;

(3) what inducements have been offered to the producers of Empire tobacco toimprove both the quantity and quality of their product.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

The Trade and Navigation Accounts show that in the year ended 31st March, 1952, the preferential rate was paid on 42 per cent. of the tobacco retained for home consumption. Separate figures for cigarettes, as distinct from other tobacco manufactures, are not available. The Accounts also show that the average c.i.f. value excluding duty, of United States tobacco imported in the 12 months ended 31st March, 1952, was 4s. 11d. per lb. The corresponding figure for Empire leaf was 4s. 1d., but the types and grades were not necessarily comparable.

The import of dollar tobacco is severely restricted on account of our balance of payments, but for the rest the users may import such qualities and quantities as seem best to them. My hon. Friend will be aware of the preferential duty allowed to Empire tobaccos, and that in recent years there has been an appreciable increase in the quantity of tobacco on which preferential rates were paid.

Mr. Shepherd

Is there any suggestion that we should give a long-term contract to Empire growers to increase the supplies in view of the urgent need to save dollars?

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Does the President's answer mean that about half the tobacco which we are consuming in so-called Virginian cigarettes does not now come from Virginia?

Mr. Thorneycroft

On an average, 42 per cent. of cigarettes, however described, came in under the preferential rate.