§ 1. Sir W. Bromley-Davenport
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, in view of the fact that over £118 million of public money has been expended on the development of forestry in this country, what specific steps are being taken by the Government to encourage the expansion of the chipboard industry in this country, with a view to absorbing the rapidly increasing output of forest thinnings and reducing the large import bill for chipboard and other similar building and furniture boards.
§ The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. Christopher Soames)
The Forestry Commission encourages the expansion of the chipboard and other timber using industries, by giving advice and information on the availability and location of supplies of home grown timber. The Forest Products Research Laboratory is co-operating with the British Chipboard Manufacturers Association in research on manufacturing processes. The rate at which home grown timber using industries as a whole have in fact expanded over the last few years is encouraging.
§ Sir W. Bromley-Davenport
In view of the growing economic importance of this matter, would my right hon. Friend consider convening at the earliest possible date a top-level conference of all the interests concerned to try and find a solution?
§ Mr. Soames
If that would be helpful, I will, of course, consider it. I think that my hon. and gallant Friend might like to know how the consumption of home-grown timber by the paper-pulp and the board manufacturing industries has expanded. In 1955 there were 2.5 million hoppus feet taken; in 1958 there were 5 million; in 1960 there were 10 million, and we estimate that by 1963 that figure will be up to 16 million, so it is progressively expanding very satisfactorily.