§ 17. Mr. Keeling
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that permission to import plywood is only given by the Timber Trade Federation to members of its plywood importers' section, that such membership is confined to traders who have a minimum current annual turnover, and that a firm which imported large quantities of plywood before the war has been refused membership; and whether he will remove this restriction.
Mr. H. Wilson
I understand that plywood shippers and agents have agreed with the Timber Trades Federation a list of plywood importers, to which any firm may apply to be admitted. I have no power to influence the decision of the Federation on these applications.
§ Mr. Keeling
Is not this a restrictive practice of the kind which the Government said they wanted to stop?
We would always be prepared to consider whether this was suitable for reference to the Monopolies 667 Commission. When the purchase of hardwood reverted to private trade, I made it clear that we did not want any rings set up to take the place of public control. I have met the hardwood section of the Timber Trade Federation and they satisfied me for the time being that what they were doing was essential, but I made it clear that it must not continue permanently.
§ Mr. Eric Fletcher
Will my right hon. Friend watch this because there is great dissatisfaction about it? It does not seem right to me that the Timber Trade Federation should be able arbitrarily to exclude new entrants to the industry.
I have made it clear that they are not able to do this without some interference from ourselves. I had a discussion with the trade about the methods of operating this restriction on entry into the hardwood trade, and I was fully satisfied about the way in which they were doing it.
§ Mr. Gibson
Will my right hon. Friend, as far as he is able, see that this method of trade control does not result in the price being kept at the terrifically high figure at which it is at the moment?
Yes, Sir. Before reversion to private trade took place I made it clear to the Timber Trade Federation that they would not be allowed to operate a ring which forces up the price, but they had to put into force some temporary arrangement because of the necessity to dispose of Government stocks and because of the condition of the sellers' market abroad.