HC Deb 13 November 1952 vol 507 cc1116-7
42. Mr. Chetwynd

asked the Secretary for Overseas Trade, as representing the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, whether he will make a statement on the work of the International Materials Conference during the past year.

Mr. Mackeson

As the answer is long, with the hon. Member's permission I will circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Chetwynd

Could the Minister say whether the Conference is in abeyance, and whether any action is being contemplated to deal with the purchasing and allocation of scarce raw materials in the future?

Mr. Mackeson

No, Sir, it is not in abeyance. Some of the committees are not continuing, but the Conference is continuing.

Following is the answer: During the past year the various committees of the International Materials Conference have continued their work of reviewing the production, consumption and distribution of a number of the more important raw materials. Where these have remained in short supply, allocation to consuming countries has been continued; thus copper, sulphur, tungsten, molybdenum, nickel and cobalt are still being allocated on an international basis. Measures to conserve supplies have also been considered and many participating countries have adopted direct or indirect controls effecting economies in the consumption of these materials. Some of the committees are making studies of the long-term problems of a number of commodities and considering what recommendations can be made to increase production over a period of years. The supply position of zinc and newsprint has improved sufficiently to enable allocations to be discontinued, and in September, the committees dealing with wool, cotton and cotton linters, and pulp and paper terminated their activities. The Central Group of the International Materials Conference will, however, maintain a watch on the general supply position and will be able to re-convene any committee in case of need. My noble Friend welcomes this further opportunity of recognising the importance of the work done by the Conference in the orderly distribution of scarce materials through international co-operation and the exchange of information on problems of common concern.