HC Deb 30 January 1962 vol 652 cc869-70
8. Mr. Brewis

asked the Postmaster-General what proportion of telegraph poles used by his Department are of home-grown timber; and what is the respective purchase price of home-grown and imported poles.

Miss Pike

For many years the Post Office has purchased all the home-grown timber suitable for conversion to poles that has been offered at prices comparable with those paid for overseas poles. About 10 per cent. of our total needs in the years 1955–61 has been met in this way. All purchases are by competitive tender, and it would be contrary to established practice to disclose the actual prices.

Mr. Brewis

Would not the hon. Lady agree that 10 per cent. is a very small proportion of the total in view of the large acreage of softwood timber at present ready for thinning? Will she consult the Forestry Commission and other timber merchants' associations to see whether the proportion can be increased, and also consider advertising the price at which the Post Office would buy home-grown poles?

Miss Pike

Since before the war we have done everything possible to encourage producers of home-grown timber, and we have given them every assistance in this matter. We are determined to go forward with that, but I remind my hon. Friend that prices are put forward to competitive tender, and in that respect I believe that our people are getting possibly the best bargain and the best opportunities that they can have.

Mr. Manuel

When the hon. Lady talks about comparable prices, can she say whether she is dealing with these poles bought as treated—I mean creosoted—for insertion in the ground, or untreated?

Miss Pike

I cannot give the hon. Gentleman an answer to that question off the cuff, but we have very generous conditions for producers of home-grown poles.