§ 50. Mr. Sparks
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer to what extent the U.S. loan, has depreciated in value to this country as a consequence of the abandonment of control of prices in U.S.A.; and if he will make a statement showing purchase prices of the main items of import when the loan was contracted and what they are now.
§ Mr. Dalton
As the answer contains a number of figures, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
§ Mr. Sparks
Will the Chancellor give the widest publicity to this matter as an indication to the country of the difficulties we are experiencing at the present time with regard to food imports?
§ Mr. Dalton
Yes. I have frequently referred to it in public, and so have many of my colleagues. We shall no doubt refer to it again. The fact that the dollar has depreciated in purchasing power is a very important factor in the present situation.
§ Following is the answer:
§ I would refer my hon. Friend to my reply to the hon. Member for Moseley (Sir P. Hannon) on 17th December last. On the basis there used, the loan has depreciated in value to this country by 28 per cent. since it was contracted. The depreciation since 1st October, 1946, is 16 per cent. It is impossible to say to what extent this is due to the abandonment of price control in the U.S.A. or to the general rise in world prices. Wholesale import prices have increased by the following percentages since the loan was contracted:
§ Steel, 20 per cent.; raw cotton, 56 per cent.; softwoods, 100 per cent.; hardwoods, 50 per cent.; softwood plywood, 33 per cent.; hardwood plywood, unchanged; alcohols and solvents, 35 pet cent.; Rosin, 25 per cent. (allowing for seasonal variations); tobacco, 15 per cent. (1946 crop); wheat, 28 per cent.; carcase meat, 41 per cent.; cheese, 31 per cent.; dried egg, 5 per cent.; lard, 49 per cent.; copra (Philippines), 73 per cent.
§ On the other hand, the price of dried milk skim is down by 30 per cent.