HC Deb 08 February 1954 vol 523 cc816-7
22. Mr. Burden

asked the Minister of State, Board of Trade, as representing the Minister of Materials, if he is aware that the present shortage of strawboard is causing anxiety in the book trade; and what action he proposes to increase supplies.

The Minister of State, Board of Trade (Mr. Heathcoat Amory)

Yes, Sir. Following discussions with the Publishers' Association and the Federation of Master Printers, the Ministry of Materials asked some time ago to be notified of any cases of serious difficulty, and in a number of instances they have been able to help firms to obtain supplies. I must emphasise, however, that the Ministry no longer exercise detailed control over distribution, and that they can only try to put applicants in touch with a willing seller.

With regard to the latter part of the Question, home production of comparable boards is already more than 40 per cent. above that of 1951 and is being further expanded. The currency available for imports during the current six months would permit the importation of slightly more than in 1951.

Mr. Burden

Is my right hon. Friend aware that his reply will give considerable satisfaction to the book trade? Will he please give special attention to the difficulties that any exporters of books may have, because I believe that there is some difficulty there at present?

Mr. Amory

We have those interests very much in mind, but I should like to emphasise that to the best of my knowledge the difficulties are only marginal and the quantities involved are relatively small.