HC Deb 25 November 1953 vol 521 cc39-41W
71. Mr. Awbery

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is aware that the production of cheap synthetic rubber in the United States of America together with the embargo on the export of natural rubber from Malaya to China and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics are causing a slump in this in- dustry which may reduce Malaya to the condition of a distressed area because of its dependence on this one commodity; and what plans he has for assisting this trade.

Mr. Lyttelton

Although the hon. Gentleman's fears about the effects of the situation may be exaggerated it is undoubtedly causing Her Majesty's Government and the Federation Government serious concern.

The Government of the Federation is determined to raise the efficiency of the natural rubber industry in order to meet any fair competition from synthetic rubber. A big programme for replanting is being put in hand. The Rural and Industrial Development Authority is helping small-holders with the preparation of latex and the Malayan Rubber Export Registration Board, established at the end of 1952, regulates the packing, grading and shipment of rubber.

On exports to China, I cannot add to the reply given on 9th November by my right hon. Friend the Minister of State, Board of Trade, to my hon. Friend the Member for Bury and Radcliffe (Sir W. Fletcher). Export of rubber to Russia is not prohibited, but is subject to quantitative restrictions imposed by Her Majesty's Government and the Governments of the dependent territories concerned.

Mr. Awbery

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what effect the slump in the rubber industry in Malaya has had upon the replanting of trees on the estates; and if he will give the acreage replanted in 1950, 1951 and 1952 together with the area of jungle brought into cultivation for the first time.

Mr. Lyttelton

The main planting season is not yet far advanced. Until the returns showing the number of acres replanted and newly planted in 1953 are received in the first quarter of 1954 the effect of the decline in the price of rubber cannot be fully assessed. Following are the figures:

Year Replanted Newly Planted
(acres) (acres)
1950 43,818 5,776
1951 57,830 14,803
1952 51,338 7,224

These figures refer to estates only. There is no specific information whether the new acreage is jungle brought into cultivation for the first time, but it is thought to be for the most part on land formerly under primary or secondary jungle.

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