asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Supply (1) whether he is aware that the attention of the Rubber Control Board has been constantly drawn to the likely shortage of reclaimed rubber for a considerable period prior to the Malayan situation; and why the Rubber Control Board stated that no steps were to be taken as there was sufficient plant in the country to satisfy post-war demands;
(2) whether, when setting up Government regenerating plant for the treatment of rubber salvage in various parts of the country, he will undertake to see that steps are taken to ensure the use of the new efficient methods, particulars of which have already been furnished to the Ministry, and that the same consideration for the extension of plant will be given to those firms outside the Rubber Reclaimers' Association?
The question of a large expansion of the reclaim industry in this country was fully considered by the Ministry of Supply a long time prior to the outbreak of war with Japan, but, having regard to the great pressure on our resources for new constructional work of more immediate war significance, it was decided not to proceed with such a plan. Steps are being taken in the light of the changed situation to extend production by the most expeditious and efficient methods from whatever source they come.
Is it not a fact that the control has been, and still remains, effectively in the hands of the plantation and tyre-producing interests in the industry, and that those interests deliberately tried, up to the very time of the Japanese invasion of Malaya, to prevent any development of the retreading or reclaiming industry in this country?
Is my hon. Friend aware that the reclaiming and retreading of rubber have been going on for many months, and that it is an increasing industry which is being effectively carried on?
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that these industries have been on a very small scale and that Messrs. Dunlop's and other big tyre-producing interests have done their best to discourage any expansion of plant up to the beginning of the war?