HC Deb 11 April 1919 vol 114 cc2400-1W
Colonel W. THORNE

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been drawn to the speech of Mr. Theodore Fischer, Swedish Consul in Manchester, at the Manchester District Committee of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce, to the effect that £2,000,000 worth of cotton piece goods were lying in warehouses at Manchester, some of which had been bought and paid for as far back as two years ago; whether his Department were cognisant of this at the time the Government were making appeals to the public for patience and sacrifice to win the War; whether he is aware that two years ago Sweden, in order to help Germany in the production of gun cotton, artificial rubber, paper textiles, etc., pro- hibited the export of wood pulp to Great Britain, and while these goods were held up the price of every kind of cotton goods to the British people rose by leaps and bounds; and whether, instead of giving an export licence to send these goods to Sweden, he will commandeer the same and sell them to the public, in order to reduce the present overcharge for all classes of cotton goods?


My right hon. Friend is aware that for some months large stocks of cotton and other piece goods have been held in this country on neutral account, the export of which could not be permitted for blockade reasons. After full consideration. His Majesty's Government decided that it was inadvisable to requisition the goods for use in this country, and my right hon. Friend is of opinion that such a course of action at the present time would not be in the best interests of the country.