HC Deb 18 February 1919 vol 112 cc785-6W

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware of the menace to an important home industry, namely, the manufacture of binder twine, which is chiefly carried on by firms on the North-East Coast, by the threatened importation of 4,000 tons of American twine; whether he is aware that at present the estimated requirements for the British harvest are 17,000 tons; that there are 3,000 tons of twine in the hands of the Food Production Department; that 4,000 tons of twine are to be imported; that the estimated quantity of binder twine in the hands of farmers and dealers is 2,000 tons; and that the balance left for British manufacturers to spin this year is 8,000 tons; whether the British manufacturers were requested to state in October last how much twine they could spin for the coming harvest and that they offered to spin 16,000 tons; whether he is aware that the farmers have expressed a preference for British twine; that the American manufacturers have been able to buy fibre at £70 per ton whilst the British manufacturers have been compelled to pay £100 to the Government hemp controller, the price being now reduced to £80, and that at such price the British manufacturers have offered to take the same price as the American; whether he is aware that the British firms have been obliged to stop several mills and to dismiss their employés; and whether he will adopt such measures as will place British manufacturers in a position of equal advantage with their foreign competitors?


The quantity of binder twine used for the 1918 harvest was estimated at 20,000 tons and the demand for the 1919 harvest may be estimated at the same figure. At a meeting held on 21st November last at the Food Production Department, the British makers agreed to make 12,000 tons for British farmers and approved of an importation from America of 5,000 tons. A licence for the importation of the twine referred to in the first part of the question was accordingly issued last November on the authority of the Food Production Department, by whose advice the Department of Import Restrictions were guided in this matter. No further licences have been issued since.