HC Deb 02 February 1956 vol 548 cc1062-3
23. Mr. Proctor

asked the President of the Board of Trade what will be the cost in dollars of the synthetic rubber, the purchase of which has been authorised from the United States of America.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

Imports have been authorised from North America, not specifically from the United States, at an estimated cost of 43 million dollars.

Mr. Proctor

Does the President consider that this expenditure of dollars is justified, in view of the alternative of the purchase in sterling of natural rubber?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I think it is generally recognised that some proportion of synthetic rubber is necessary in a flourishing and competitive rubber manufacturing industry. I do not think that imports of this kind lead to a reduction in the total of natural rubber imported.

Mr. Proctor

In view of the uncertainly which the right hon. Gentleman expresses, would he look further into the matter?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I have looked fairly closely into it and as a result have given the Answer which I have just given.

Mr. Bottomley

If the President's statement is correct, is it possible to obtain synthetic rubber other than from dollar sources?

Mr. Thorneycroft

This appears to be the best and the most economic source. Indeed, in many ways it is the only source for some types of this rubber.

Mr. Osborne

Is the President aware that preparations are already being made to manufacture synthetic rubber in this country, and that within a reasonable time we shall be free from having to buy dollar imports of this raw material?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I am aware of the suggestions for its manufacture in this country.