HC Deb 05 April 1955 vol 539 c980
16. Mr. Baldwin

asked the President of the Board of Trade the present cost in rentals and supervision of strategic stockpiles of timber; and the estimated deterioration in condition.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade (Mr. Henry Strauss)

In the current year the cost of holding the stockpile of timber is estimated at £480,000. Softwood is turned over periodically and the prices obtained on sale are estimated as not more than 10 per cent. below the prices paid for replacement.

Mr. Baldwin

I could hardly hear what my hon. and learned Friend was saying, but it is quite obvious that we are spending considerable sums of money in this direction. Does my hon. and learned Friend not agree that it is one of the ways in which we could save considerable expense, as timber merchants can now buy freely in the world and stockpile in their own yards, yet a great timber stockpile is growing in this country?

Mr. Strauss

My hon. Friend will appreciate that my answer gave him only statistical information. The question of policy is different.

Mr. H. Wilson

Are we to deduce from the Parliamentary Secretary's answer that it is still the Government's policy to maintain strategic stockpiles in this country, or are we, on the contrary, to deduce from the low level of cotton stocks that it is not their policy to maintain a strategic stockpile?

Mr. Strauss

Nothing can be deduced from the answer except the statistical information which was asked for and given.