§ 31. Sir W. Smithers
asked the Secretary for Overseas Trade, as representing the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, if, in view of the opinion of leading merchants and organisations in the softwood section of the wood trade, that the supply of softwood is in excess of demands, he will remove all controls in the buying and selling and use of softwood.
§ The Secretary for Overseas Trade (Mr. H. R. Mackeson)
No, Sir. Our balance of payments difficulties make it necessary to restrict the import, and therefore the 1504 use, of softwood, practically all of which comes from non-sterling sources.
§ Sir W. Smithers
In spite of controls, have we not now plenty of softwood? Why not remove all the controls?
§ Mr. Mackeson
In our present balance of payments situation that is not yet possible. I would remind my hon. Friend that softwoods cost us dollars and gold, and that hardwoods come from the sterling area.
§ Mr. Nally
On a point of order. Would you give us some guidance, Mr. Speaker, about the terms in which this Question is framed? It says:To ask the Secretary for Overseas Trade, as representing the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster,by which is presumably meant that had the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster been in this House the Question would have been addressed to him instead of to the Secretary for Overseas Trade. As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has now a number of duties that have been imposed upon him, the latest being complete responsibility for the co-ordination and supervision of the public relations of Government Departments, would you be kind enough to tell us how we should frame our Questions on public relations?
§ Mr. Speaker
It is for the Government to arrange which Ministers shall answer in the House for noble Lords. The hon. Member's Question should be addressed to the Leader of the House or to the Prime Minister.
Mr. I. O. Thomas
In view of the repeated opposition of the hon. Member for Orpington (Sir W. Smithers) to controls, would it not be appropriate if the Minister inquired of him what would be likely to happen if all his controls were put out of action when he is playing the organ at his local parish church?