40. Mr. John Hall
asked the Minister of Materials when he anticipates removing the remaining controls on the import of plywood.
§ The Minister of Materials (Sir Arthur Salter)
Imports of plywood are at present controlled by linking the issue of import licences to purchases from the Ministry's stocks. I explained the reasons for this in my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) on 29th June. The duration of this 856 scheme will depend upon the rate of disposal of stocks. There is also restriction on the import of dollar plywood. When it will be possible to remove all control over plywood imports will depend on our balance of payments situation.
While I can hardly be disappointed at receiving the reply which I expected, may I nevertheless ask these questions: first, is the Minister aware that the relaxation to which he referred in the answer he gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) can have the broad effect of doubling the value of import entitlement only if the importer is willing to buy a quantity of substandard or unsuitable plywood? Secondly, is he aware that the ratio of purchases from Ministry stocks to imports is so weighted as to discourage the purchase of the type of plywood which the furniture industry requires? Lastly, is he aware that the present method of disposing of the Ministry's stocks is likely to increase the cost of manufactured furniture to the purchasing public? Would he not consider this question again?
§ Sir A. Salter
I would not accept my hon. Friend's first supplementary question as a general statement because in many cases the Ministry's stocks are such as are convenient for the use of the purchaser. In regard to the second, the ratio, roughly, has been halved this last week, and I think that that largely meets the difficulty my hon. Friend had in mind. I think that that, too, to a large extent answers his third question as well.