asked the Minister of Production whether he is aware that whereas the paper allocated annually to newspapers amounts to 250,000 tons, and to periodicals 50,000 tons, that allocated to books is less than 22,000 tons; and whether he will consider increasing the allocation to books to at least that allowed to periodicals.
Yes, Sir, I am aware of these figures, but books are receiving 40 per cent., newspapers and periodicals about 22½ per cent. of pre-war consumption. The supply position is such that we cannot at the moment make higher allocations.
Will the right hon. Gentleman not reconsider this matter, in view of the fact that an increased allocation of newsprint that was accorded to newspapers was not, in fact, taken up by all the newspapers, and that a great deal was left on their hands, showing that the newspapers had too generous an allocation, and that there ought to be more for books and periodicals?
With regard to the allocation to newspapers, that is now largely being taken up, because of the demand for news of the war. Perhaps it would meet the case if I said that I will reconsider the matter in the early autumn. There is no prospect of an increase in the supply of paper, but it may be that in the autumn our military and shipping position will make it possible for us to live on a smaller margin, and to take some risks. I am quite willing to go into that. I regard it as a serious matter.
Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that a very large proportion of the paper for books does not have to be imported, but is obtained from internal sources, and that this is a very important question?