28. Mr. Vane
asked the Minister of Materials why he allowed the volume of pitwood imported into this country in 1952, a year of high prices in the exporting countries, to be 75 per cent. greater than the amount imported in 1951, and 100 per cent. greater than the amount imported in 1950, when the production for our home woodlands was and is capable of considerable expansion year by year; and what is his policy for 1953 and 1954.
§ Sir A. Salter
Stocks of pitwood were heavily drawn on in 1950, and supplies were still below consumption during 1951, when stocks fell so low as to jeopardise coal production. In 1952 heavy purchases at home and abroad by the National Coal Board were needed to rebuild sound working stocks, with some margin to spare against an international emergency. Purchases of home-grown mining timber in 1952 were 50 per cent. above those of the previous year, and represented the maximum that could be procured after special arrangements to expand home production. The policy in 1953 and 1954 will, as in the past, be to authorise the import of pitwood only at a rate which, taking full account of the availability of home produced timber, enables consumption to be met and adequate stocks maintained.