HC Deb 22 November 1920 vol 135 cc81-3W

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Munitions whether merino and cross-bred wools are obtainable at the sales in Australia and New Zealand at prices which, together with freight, insurance, and other expenses, total a sum considerably less than that at which the Government is withdrawing, unsold, similar wools at the London sales; and whether, consequently, very large quantities of such wools have been imported into England from South America to the detriment of the stocks the Government holds here?


It is understood that some sales at low prices have been made in Australia and New Zealand, but the bulk of the wools offered at auction sales in New Zealand up to the present have been withdrawn from sale and the remaining auction sales announced to take place in New Zealand in November have been cancelled. The Australian sales have been very irregular, and for certain qualities it is probable that some sales have been made at lower prices than those of the Government equivalent prices at the London auctions. The quantities of South American wool imported into this country have been considerably smaller this year than in any normal pre-War year. For the first ten months of 1913, for instance, importations were 50 per cent. larger than in the corresponding months of 1920.


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Munitions the amount of wool which is at present held by the Government in New Zealand; how long it has been held; what was the price paid for it; what price has been realised in recent sales; and whether he can estimate the loss to the Government due to the retention of this stock of wool till the new crop was on the market?


The quantity of wool at present held by the British Government in New Zealand in pursuance of War contracts is estimated at 373,000 bales, a considerable part of which has very recently been received into stock. On the average it has been held for a period of about 7 months. The prices paid vary for each grade of wool, and there are approximately 500 grades. The average purchase price was about 15d. per greasy lb. in New Zealand. The average selling price during the past few months shows a small profit. It is recognised, however, owing to the almost complete absence of demand for the coarser grades some loss will ultimately be sustained in a considerable proportion of the present stocks. By no possibility could the stocks have been sold before the new clip was in the market.