As I indicated in the House on 22nd February last, representatives of the newspapers informed my noble Friend that it might be possible to remove the statutory control over the distribution of newsprint next year if an additional 100,000 tons could be imported. They did not suggest that this would be sufficient to meet unrestricted consumption, but that they would themselves be able to keep consumption by the newspapers within the amount then available. Fifty thousand tons of this has since been authorised for importation from Canada.
So far as non-dollar newsprint is concerned the Newsprint Supply Company has advised by noble Friend that no additional supplies will be available this year, but that 50,000 tons may be available in 1955. A decision on this will be taken this year, in the light of the balance of payments position at the time.
Is the Minister aware of the statement that 50,000 extra tons of additional newsprint are now obtainable either from home or Scandinavian producers? In view of that, he can no longer excuse himself on the ground either of supply difficulties or non-dollar difficulties. Why is he so obstinately determined to maintain the only rationed daily Press in the whole of the civilised world?