HC Deb 15 February 1954 vol 523 cc1632-3
23. Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

asked the Minister of State, Board of Trade, as representing the Minister of Materials, what steps he is taking to end the rationing of newsprint.

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

Even if it were at present possible to permit a further increase in our imports of newsprint, my noble Friend's information is that supplies sufficient to maintain a safe stock level and provide for any increase in present consumption are unlikely to be available this year. My noble Friend is examining the possibility of bringing the statutory control of newspapers to an end. leaving them to make their own arrangements for the distribution of the limited supplies of newsprint available to them. This is a matter on which my noble Friend has sought, but not yet received, the considered views of the representatives of the newspapers.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Is the Minister aware that his reply will be received with great disappointment? Is there now any valid reason why this onerous and pernicious restriction should continue to apply to daily and Sunday newspapers, especially at a time when we seem to have an adequate supply of dollars available for far less essential purposes? Is it not practicable to lift this restriction forthwith?

Mr. Amory

The hon. and gallant Member will realise that the consumption of newsprint has been rising fairly sharply during the last year or two, and that we are still having to keep a careful eye on the balance of payments position.

Commander Donaldson

Is the Minister aware that vast supplies of newsprint are available in Canada, and that Canada would like to re-establish her market and increase it to the point at which it stood before the war? Will he look into that feature?

Mr. Amory

The information which my right hon. Friend has is that there is not a considerable quantity of newsprint available anywhere for early delivery.