HC Deb 15 December 1953 vol 522 cc175-6
5. Mr. H. Wilson

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what information he has received from the United States Government about their decision to allot 55 million dollars for the purchase of American surplus farm products, including cotton; whether this cotton will be bought on public account or through private merchants; and what arrangements will be made about the prices to be paid.

Mr. R. A. Butler

The United States Government has recently announced two further allotments to the United Kingdom of funds for the purchase of surplus agricultural commodities: 35 million dollars has been allotted under Section 541 of the Mutual Security Act, and 20 million dollars under Section 550. This is in addition to the 20 million dollars previously allotted under Section 550 for the purchase of tobacco. Part of the allocation under Section 541 will be used for purchases of cotton. Most of the purchases will be by private traders, but there will be some by the Raw Cotton Commission. They will be at normal commercial prices.

Mr. Wilson

Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that, with a growing proportion of our cotton imports being supplied under such special arrangements. sometimes with export subsidies, it is possible for the Government to introduce any effective measures on the futures trading in raw cotton?

Mr. Butler

Yes, Sir. I do not think that this will make it more difficult; in fact in some respects it will make it easier.

Mr. W. G. Bennett

Can the Chancellor of the Exchequer say whether this will apply to farm products and when these are likely to be available?

Mr. Butler

I have been able to announce prunes. Whether prunes can be classed as a farm product, I do not know, but that is the only one negotiated so far, though we still have a certain amount of this money to spend.

Mr. Gaitskell

How does the Chancellor propose to convince the American Government that this purchase of cotton will be in addition to what we would have bought in any case, since that is necessary under the terms of the American Act?

Mr. Butler

The right hon. Gentleman had better observe whether the transaction is completed. If it is completed, he can be satisfied that the Americans are satisfied; if it is not completed, they will not be satisfied.