§ 29 and 30. Mr. Nabarro
asked the Minister of Materials (1) the reasons that have prompted his decision to require importers to buy two-thirds of their requirements of plywood from Government stocks; how long this arrangement is to last; and what assurances he can give that the Government stocks are representative of consumer needs, that prices are competitive and that industrial requirements for plywood will not be frustrated by his edict;
(2) the estimated period required to liquidate Government stocks of plywood; and what steps he is taking to prevent further distortion of the pattern of supplies and demand for this material, arising from the selling and imports 15 ratios, respectively, for Government stocks and private imports, that he has recently imposed.
§ The Minister of Materials (Sir Arthur Salter)
The linking of the issue of import licences for plywood to purchases from the Ministry's stock is designed to avoid unnecessary imports and undue loss to the, taxpayer. The ratio is fixed from time to time after consultation with the plywood trade and with regard to the Ministry's stock position. I have recently reviewed the position following the completion of the Ministry's import obligations and the volume of sales already effected. The trade are shortly being informed of a relaxation which will have the broad effect of doubling the value of import entitlement in return for a given purchase of the Ministry's stock. If disposal continues at a satisfactory rate, I shall, of course, be prepared to consider further relaxations.
As to prices, I consider those now being charged to be reasonable in relation to the general level of the market; but they are kept under constant review.
§ Mr. Nabarro
While thanking my right hon. Friend for his most welcome decision and the relaxation he has given, may I ask him for an assurance that, once he has disposed of the residual of his plywood stocks, he will not engage in any further State trading in this commodity and will hand the whole trade back to its proper place, namely, the private traders?
§ Sir A. Salter
We are not engaged in public trading in this commodity; we are merely disposing of the remnant of the Ministry's stock left after the cessation of——