HC Deb 28 June 1956 vol 555 cc683-4
33. Mr. Gibson-Watt

asked the President of the Board of Trade to state, in cubic feet, the amounts of softwood and hardwood recently released from strategic reserve; and how these figures compare with the previous five years.

The President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Peter Thorneycroft)

About 25 million cubic feet of softwood and 1.8 million cubic feet of hardwood have recently been released for disposal from the strategic reserve. During the previous three years 13.4 million cubic feet of softwood and 0.9 million cubic feet of hardwood were released and sold, mainly in the course of turning over stocks. There were no releases in the preceding two years.

Mr. Gibson-Watt

Will my hon. Friend give his assurance that he has consulted the home-grown timber organisation and will continue to do so in future releases?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I have consulted a wide variety of sections of the timber trade about these disposals.

34. Mr. Gibson-Watt

asked the President of the Board of Trade what arrangements he is making to ensure that the release of softwood and hardwood timber, recently authorised from strategic reserve, will not affect the stability of the home market.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

The arrangements for the disposal of softwood and hardwood, including the rate and method of disposal, were discussed with the trade. The softwood has been offered for sale by tender in the first instance, and some of the lots for which no acceptable tenders were received have later been sold by negotiation. No softwood has been sold unless the price offered appeared reasonable in present market conditions. Hardwood will be sold in the same way, and today is the last day on which tenders may be submitted.

Mr. Gibson-Watt

Will my right hon. Friend give an assurance that the reserve price of these stocks compares reasonably with the current commercial value in this country?

Mr. Thorneycroft

In consultation with the trade, we have endeavoured to see that these sales do not disturb the ordinary market for wood. I have no reason to think that the trade is dissatisfied with the arrangements which we have made.