Tobacco (Non-dollar Purchases)

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Commerce – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 22nd July 1952.

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Photo of Mr Richard Stokes Mr Richard Stokes , Ipswich 12:00 am, 22nd July 1952

asked the President of the Board of Trade what steps he proposes to take to increase the import of tobacco from non-dollar countries, particularly from Greece and Turkey.

Photo of Brigadier Sir Harry Mackeson Brigadier Sir Harry Mackeson , Folkestone and Hythe

All unmanufactured tobacco is bought on private account, but the amount of dollars made available for purchases from this season's North American crop will be very much less than last year. So long as our balance of payments situation so demands, this policy of restricting dollar purchases will be continued. The right hon. Member will appreciate that such a policy provides a strong inducement to use more non-dollar tobacco, including Greek and Turkish, and the amount used in recent years, particularly from the Commonwealth, has steadily increased. Licences to import such tobacco are freely granted.

Photo of Mr Richard Stokes Mr Richard Stokes , Ipswich

Yes, but the Minister is not correctly informed. Is he aware that the amount of imported tobacco from Greece has gone down by about 85 per cent. in the last year or so, and that from Turkey by about 75 per cent.; and that the two added together at the present time only formed about 2 per cent, of what comes in from America? Would he answer my Question, which is: What is he doing about it? I know it is on private account, but what is he doing about it to see that more tobacco is imported from Greece and Turkey?

Photo of Brigadier Sir Harry Mackeson Brigadier Sir Harry Mackeson , Folkestone and Hythe

I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that I am correctly informed and that consumption has gone up. It is true that purchases went down and that, as he should know, being a member of the last Administration, is due to the bad crop owing to drought in Southern Rhodesia last year. The crop is now very good, and private enterprise is buying large quantities. There will be more tobacco from Greece and Turkey used this year than in 1951, and the same applies to the year 1951 as compared with 1950.

Photo of Mr Richard Stokes Mr Richard Stokes , Ipswich

Yes, but I am not talking about Rhodesian tobacco, I am talking about tobacco from Greece and Turkey. It may be that the consumption of Rhodesian tobacco has gone up, but what I want to know is what he is doing about the sad slump in the purchases of Grecian and Turkish tobacco? There is an abundance of tobacco there, and he is incorrectly informed.

Photo of Brigadier Sir Harry Mackeson Brigadier Sir Harry Mackeson , Folkestone and Hythe

The right hon. Gentleman used the words, "non-dollar countries," which must be taken to include Southern Rhodesia. The restricted purchase of dollar tobacco will, we hope, have the effect of increasing the imports of Turkish and Grecian tobacco, but the right hon. Gentleman must remember that they have to be paid for in gold.

Photo of Mr Richard Stokes Mr Richard Stokes , Ipswich

Put up the value of gold and that will be all right.