HC Deb 19 November 1973 vol 864 c942
20. Mr. Sydney Chapman

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he will make a statement on the world-wide shortage of newsprint, with particular reference to the situation in the United Kingdom, and the arrangements made to help newspapers in difficulty.

Mr. Anthony Grant

Since the current shortage of newsprint is world-wide the scope for short-term action is limited. However, I understand that arrangements made by the newspaper industry to ensure that newspapers receive essential supplies are continuing to work satisfactorily. We shall keep the position under review in the light of continuing discussions with newsprint producers and the newspaper publishers.

Mr. Chapman

Has my hon. Friend noticed that the result of the shortage of newsprint in British newspapers and journals is that a growing proportion of them are devoting more space to advertisements and a lesser proportion of space to news stories? Does he accept or reject that trend? Is there a case for limiting the maximum amount of space which can be made available for advertisements or relaxing the liability of the newspapers to pay VAT?

Mr. Grant

It is not for me to pontificate on how newspapers use the news print available to them. The industry has traditionally wished to sort out its own affairs. It is doing so at present. The Government are ready to enter into discussions with the industry if it so wishes. At the moment it is working reasonably satisfactorily.

Mr. Lipton

Is it not an advantage that as a result of the current shortage of newsprint the newspapers will be able to print much less rubbish than they are now printing?