HC Deb 12 February 1957 vol 564 cc1070-1
39. Mr. Langford-Holt

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the fears of United Kingdom tobacco manufacturers that any increased percentage of Commonwealth tobacco in their tobacco products would affect adversely their tobacco sales, he will take the initiative to consult with United Kingdom tobacco manufacturers with a view to obtaining a voluntary increasing uniform percentage of Commonwealth and Empire tobaccos in all tobacco products.

Mr. Walker-Smith

Officials have discussed with manufacturers the possibility of using more sterling area tobacco. I understand that the manufacturers' fear is not so much directed to the impact on individual concerns as that their total sales would fall. We are, of course, considering this question in the general context of the public interest.

Mr. Langford-Holt

Will my right hon. and learned Friend please have a look at this matter again, because in the broadest sense the national interest would be best served by a higher percentage of better quality of tobacco being available and used?

Mr. Walker-Smith

My hon. Friend will appreciate that there are a good many considerations, some of a technical nature, involved in this, all of which have to be borne in mind and given their due weight in relation to other considerations.

Mr. Gordon Walker

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman face this question with a little more enthusiasm and vigour? These problems have been faced in the past and solved, and can be faced and solved now.

Mr. Walker-Smith

There is no lack of enthusiasm or vigour, but I must ask the right hon. Gentleman to believe that we shall not be content with his standard of performance in the targets which we set for our own.

Mr. Dugdale

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman at least inform the House that he himself does not agree with the views of the manufacturers that their sales will suffer if this admirable tobacco is used?

Mr. Walker-Smith

I do not think that it is for me to agree or disagree with their opinion, at any rate on the evidence now before me.