HC Deb 15 December 1955 vol 547 cc1388-9
54. Mr. Sorensen

asked the President of the Board of Trade why he has allowed the import of 70,000 tons of synthetic rubber ordered from the United States which will result in a corresponding loss to Malayan producers of natural rubber.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

I do not accept the implication of the hon. Member's Question. I have nothing to add to the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Minister of State on 13th December in reply to the right hon. Member for Rochester and Chatham (Mr. Bottomley).

Mr. Sorensen

Do I understand the President to deny that there has been a purchase of 70,000 tons of synthetic rubber? Is he aware that the purchase is causing great disturbance in Malaya, where rubber is the mainstay of the economy?

Mr. Thorneycroft

No, Sir, the import of the synthetic rubber has been licensed. It will not affect the demand for Malayan rubber, because there is a shortage. It is necessary to have the synthetic rubber for technical reasons in order to assist our own exporters.

Mr. Bottomley

Is not this importation of synthetic rubber enough to meet half the requirements of our tyre-manufacturing industry? Is it not a further illustration of the foolishness of the Government's policy in wasting dollars unnecessarily, thereby adding to our balance of payments difficulties?

Mr. Thorneycroft

No, Sir. It is essential that our tyre manufacturers should have the raw material which is necessary to enable them to be competitive with all other tyre manufacturers in the world.