HC Deb 30 October 1952 vol 505 cc2091-2
26. Mr. Edward Davies

asked the President of the Board of Trade what steps are being taken to reduce imports of tobacco from dollar sources and to obtain greater supplies from the sterling area.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

The import of dollar tobacco has for many years been severely restricted because of balance of payments difficulties, and this policy will be maintained. The United Kingdom manufacturers have bought increasing quantities of tobacco from the sterling area, and I expect this trend to continue.

Mr. Davies

Is not the figure still disproportionate in view of the difficulties which we have with out import-export account? What can the right hon. Gentleman tell us about the development of the imports of tobacco from Rhodesia and other parts of the Commonwealth and Colonies to offset these difficulties?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I think the figures are quite satisfactory. Our imports of dollar tobacco in 1952, by weight, should be only 40 per cent. of those in 1938, while our imports of sterling area tobacco, again by weight, have nearly doubled since 1938. In 1952, the comparable figure should be about 170 per cent.

Mr. Bottomley

Would the President say whether, in considering sterling area tobacco, he included supplies from India and Pakistan? Could he say whether it is possible to get a Virginia type of tobacco from Yugoslavia and, if so, what steps have been taken to get this supply?

Mr. Thorneycroft

Answering the first part of the question, I think the figure applies to all sterling area tobacco. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will put his second question down on the Order Paper.

Mr. Gaitskell

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that this is a question of expanding tobacco production in Southern Rhodesia and other places? Would he say what steps the Government are taking to encourage the further development of this tobacco?

Mr. Thorneycroft

As I think the right hon. Gentleman knows, there are long-term purchasing arrangements between manufacturers here and Southern Rhodesia.

Mr. Tilney

Would my right hon. Friend consider helping our N.A.T.O. allies, Turkey and Greece, in this matter?

Mr. Thorneycroft

We consumed more Oriental tobacco in 1951 than in 1950 and this increased rate of use is being maintained.

Mr. Porter

In considering this question, will the right hon. Gentleman give a little consideration to the tastes of those people who smoke the tobacco?