asked the President of the Board of Trade what were the arrangements made with the paper trade for preferential treatment to be given to the requirements of all political parties for both national and local elections; and when were these arrangements made.
Mr. H. Wilson:
The voluntary priority scheme for paper and board was discussed with the various trade associations concerned at a series of meetings commencing last November and ranging over a period of some weeks. Attention was directed in suitable cases to the importance of seeing that supplies of paper were made available to all political parties for elections. On 12th March the associations in question were specifically reminded of the importance of this matter.
What the hon. and gallant Gentleman is suggesting is that I should reimpose full control on paper supplies. As he has said, the present arrangement is a rather looser one, but all the cases which have been referred to my Department or to the special trade committee concerned with this matter have been dealt with successfully.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that in the south-west of England there is very great concern about the supply of newsprint for the forthcoming municipal elections? Will he look into the matter of supplies for that purpose?
Has my right hon. Friend taken notice of the position in Carlisle, which has been brought to his attention, where the whole of the city council will seek re-election at the municipal elections and there is an acute shortage of paper for those elections?
Is my right hon. Friend aware that two or three printers in Bristol have exhausted their supply of paper in meeting the needs of the political parties for the municipal elections? Will he see that the printers have sufficient paper for their normal requirements?