HL Deb 17 August 1921 vol 43 cc829-31

My Lords, I desire, on behalf of Lord Bledisloe, to ask His

Years. Imported Wheat and Wheat Flour Retained in the United Kingdom (Imports Less Re-exports)in Equivalent of Grain. Percentage of Total Consumption in the United Kingdom. Value of Total Imports of Wheat Flour into the United Kingdom.
Average of Tons. Per Cent. £
1905–1914 5,655,000 80.2 46,427,545
1915 5,123,500 76.5 65,617,352
1916 5,679,600 77.9 80,581,353
1917 5,532,600 78.7 119,432,777
1918 4,714,700 71.3 113,546,430
1919 4,794,250 70.9 101,699,401
1920 6,068,700 79.9 167,019,949

The proportion of the space available on vessels entered with cargoes from abroad at United Kingdom ports which would Lave been necessary for the carriage of the wheat and flour represented in the first Majesty's Government what was the average amount of wheat annually imported into the United Kingdom during the ten years preceding the war, and what were the amounts of such imports for each year of the war and since, including an estimate in respect of the current calendar year; also what proportion in each case of the total national consumption these imports represent. And also, what was the value of the wheat imported into the United Kingdom annually prior to the war, during the war, and since the war; what amount of shipping tonnage such imports occupied, and what proportion this represented of the total tonnage available; also what is today the additional cost to the nation of sea-borne wheat arising from the differences in international monetary exchange?


My Lords, I will answer these two Questions together. The following table shows the net imports of wheat and wheat flour for the calendar years specified, expressed in the equivalent amount of grain, and the percentage of these imports to the estimated consumption for all purposes except seed. It has been assumed that 50 per cent. of the home crop is consumed in the year in which the harvest is reaped., and no allowance has been made for the variations in stocks held at the beginning and end of each calendar year, as data for pre-war years are not available in this respect. The table gives figures for the last complete calendar year, but the estimate desired by my noble friend in respect of the current calendar year would involve an excursion into the realms of prophecy.

column of the table may be estimated at about 6 per cent. in the ten years before the war. It rose to about 10½ per cent. in the year 1917, and then fell to about 7½ per cent. in the year 1920. The actual amount of shipping tonnage occupied cannot be stated precisely, since it would involve an inquiry into the conditions of transport which the Government arc unable to undertake.

With regard to the last part of the noble Lord's second Question, it is estimated that the additional cost arising from the differences in international monetary exchange if spread over all imports of sea-borne wheat would at to-day's rates of exchange be approximately 9s. per quarter.