asked the Minister of Public Building and Works (1) whether he is aware that the cost of importing timber and timber products in the first five months of 1965 was £104 million as against £89 million for the first five months of 1964; and, in view of the need to obtain a healthier balance of payments, what steps he plans to take to reduce the unnecessary use of timber in the fields for which his Department is responsible;
(2) what part of the £285 million worth of timber imported into this country during 1964 was absorbed by the building industry; and whether, in view of the adverse effect on the balance of payments of this import, he will review his present arrangements for stimulating the increased use of imported timber in building in this country, and arrange for his scientific experts to pay attention instead to the possibilities of substituting indigenous materials for imported timber in building wherever possible.
§ Mr. Boyden
My right hon. Friend is aware of the increase in the cost of importing timber and timber products: part of this increase has been due to a rise in price. It is probable that more than half of the imported timber is used in the building industry. Research is always being carried out into improved methods of building, and new materials 289W are constantly being developed. Timber is generally used only where it is the most suitable and the most economical material.