§ MR. CHIOZZA MONEY
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade if he can state the details of the agreements which have been arrived at by British steel manufacturers with reference to steel plates and steel rails respectively; if he is aware of the rise in price of these materials which has taken place since the agreements were arrived at; that a third combination to raise prices has just been 1626 formed in the steel angle trade; and if he can promise to introduce legislation on the subject at an early date.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE (Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE,) Carnarvon Boroughs
I am unable to give the details of the agreement to which the hon. Member refers, but I have heard it stated that they include an obligation on the part of Scottish and North of England makers of steel plates not to sell certain classes of goods in each others' markets. A provisional agreement of a similar nature is believed to have been entered into with regard to angles, but I am not aware whether it has been ratified yet. As regards steel rails, there has for a long time been an agreement among the principal British makers, who are also understood to be parties to an arrangement arrived at by an international rail syndicate for the division of the world's markets. I am aware of the rise in price which has occurred, but I am advised that this is partly due to other causes affecting the steel market generally. Arrangements for maintaining prices exist in a number of other trades in the United Kingdom, and the introduction of legislative measures for dealing with the matter would obviously require very careful consideration.
§ MR. CHIOZZA MONEY
asked whether the right hon. Gentleman would give special attention to the bearing of this matter upon international trade, in view of the fact that these international agreements were in restraint of competition.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
Certainly. My attention has already been called to the international aspect of the matter, more especially with regard to South American rails.