§ Sir R. NEWMAN
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Munitions what is the pencentage of wool-combing machinery running full time or half time and less; and whether there is concerted action between the Imperial Government and the Australian wool growers to keep up wool prices by fixing the reserve prices on an agreed basis so that they are higher in Britain than in Australia c.i.f.?
I am aware that a considerable amount of wool-combing machinery is not working full time, but I do not know the percentage. The answer to the second part of this question is in the negative, but, as I stated in answer to a question on Thursday last, it is not our policy to undersell the Dominion growers. In fixing the reserve prices at the auction sales, the Ministry does not merely consider recent selling prices in the Dominions and the cost of transport, but also allows for warehousing and handling charges incidental to the sale of wool in the consuming markets.
§ Mr. A. SHORT
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Munitions whether British firms could have used Government-owned New Zealand greasy cross-bred wool instead of crossbred wool imported from South America had the Government been willing to sell its New Zealand wool at market prices
In view of the fact that considerable quantities of South American wool have always been imported into this1774W country and that the imports during the first ten months of 1913 were 50 per cent, greater than in the corresponding months of 1920, there would appear to be no reason for supposing that South American wools are displacing New Zealand wools to any material extent.
Mr. A. DAVIES (Clitheroe)
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Munitions whether South American cross-bred wool has been obtainable during the last six months cheaper, c.i.f., than the reserve prices at which the Government has withdrawn its New Zealand cross-bred wool?
The prices of New Zealand and South American cross-bred wools are not strictly comparable, because of the different characteristics of the two classes of wool. From information obtained from trade sources it would appear that in some cases South American wool has been sold at lower prices than somewhat similar grades of New Zealand wool.