HC Deb 20 January 1953 vol 510 cc8-9
3 and 4. Mr. Nabarro

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what would be the dollar cost at current prices of purchasing the 750,000 tons of sugar in the first year, and thereafter 500,000 tons of sugar per annum to remove sugar and sweets from rationing in the United Kingdom; by how much it would be necessary to decrease dollar tobacco purchases to pay for this extra sugar; and how many fewer cigarettes, per capita, per diem, such a switch of tobacco and sugar would entail;

(2) how much loss of revenue in respect of Duty, would be entailed in a full year by reducing purchases of tobacco from dollar sources, by an amount equal to the sum required to purchase the 750,000 tons of sugar in the first year, and thereafter 500,000 tons of sugar per annum, to remove all sugar and sugar products from rationing in the United Kingdom.

Mr. R. A. Butler

The cost of purchasing 750,000 tons of sugar at present prices would be 60 million dollars; this is the cost at present prices of about 84 million pounds of dollar tobacco.

It is not possible to predict the effect on cigarette consumption of a reduction of this order on purchases of dollar tobacco.

The loss of revenue is conjectural but would probably be at least £300 million

Mr. Nabarro

Would my right hon. Friend bear in mind that, in spite of the complex issues involved here, the most virulent problem which the housewife has today is the shortage of sugar? As much fruit is being wasted every year, and as housewives cannot bake or make cakes or make jam, would it not be preferable to appeal for a small sacrifice from the smoking population in order to cut down dollar imports of tobacco and to use the money for a better purpose—buying more sugar?

Mr. Butler

I have naturally studied the Questions which the hon. Gentleman has put on the Paper, but I am satisfied that in the general interest it is better to leave the equation between the two more or less as it is at present.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Would it not be possible to save quite a lot of dollars on American films and to use that money for the purchase of sugar?

Mr. Butler

The whole film question is tied up with international agreements, but the whole question is also always under review.