HC Deb 22 February 1954 vol 524 cc6-8
13. Commander Donaldson

asked the Minister of State, Board of Trade, as representing the Minister of Materials, if he is aware that the newsprint manufacturers in Canada would welcome the opportunity of reopening their trade with Britain; and if he will make every effort to have dollars made available for purchasers of Canadian newsprint.

18. Mr. Nabarro

asked the Minister of State, Board of Trade, as representing the Minister of Materials, what economic or financial considerations require continued control of newsprint.

19 and 20. Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

asked the Minister of State, Board of Trade, as representing the Minister of Materials (1) what additional imports of newsprint are required to enable newsprint to be decontrolled;

(2) what the cost would be of accepting the offer made by Canadian newsprint manufacturers of an additional 100,000 tons of newsprint a year.

Mr. Amory

Dollars have been made available for the import of newsprint from Canada in increasing quantities each year since 1951. For the current year the importation of 200,000 tons of Canadian newsprint has been authorised, at an approximate cost of £11 million.

Representatives of the newspapers have now indicated to my noble Friend that insufficient supplies are available this year to permit, in their view, the removal of statutory control over distribution, but that this might be possible next year if an additional 100,000 tons were imported in 1955. Whether increased imports can be permitted is a matter which must be considered at the proper time in the light of the balance of payments position.

Commander Donaldson

Is my right hon. Friend aware that his statement will be greatly welcomed, both in this country and in Canada, and that this is a trend which the House will welcome?

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Was it not rather misleading for the Minister, when replying to my Question last week, to suggest that any increase in present consumption is unlikely to be available this year in view of the fact that the Canadian newsprint manufacturers last December offered to provide 100,000 tons of additional newsprint a year as from next July?

Mr. Amory

The offer to which I referred in my answer today, and that which I had in mind when I spoke the other day, was 100,000 tons which they offered for 1955. I understand that this offer is conditional on a four years contract, which would be extremely difficult to decide about at present in the light of the still precarious balance of payments position.

Mr. Nabarro

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that both in the case of softwoods and petrol, derationed and returned completely to a free market, very much larger sums of dollars have been, and will be, involved than the relatively small amount of dollars which is involved in the case of newsprint? Will he, therefore, try to expedite the end of this rather unsatisfactory control?

Mr. Amory

I am sure that my hon. Friend and the Government are in agreement as regards their ultimate wishes in this respect.

Mr. Storey

What body or bodies representative of newspapers have been consulted about the decontrol of newsprint?

Mr. Amory

I cannot say without notice.