HC Deb 17 July 1919 vol 118 cc593-4
68 and 69. Brigadier-General CROFT

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) whether he has yet ascertained the facts concerning the recent contract given by the Glasgow Corporation for steel rails from the United States; what was the difference in price between the quotations from Glasgow and the United States firms; what is the saving to the ratepayers; what is the value of the total contract; (2) what is the cost of unemployed benefit paid to workers in Glasgow under the present Government scheme; and whether he can give the approximate amount of wages which would have been paid in the production of 5,000 tons of steel rails in Glasgow?


As regards the first question, I have made inquiries as to this transaction and understand that the order has been placed abroad, because home firms are unable to deliver the rails in time for the necessary renewals of track which have to be carried out before the winter.

The difference in price between the American and the lowest British tender (which was not by a Glasgow company) was just over £10,000, and the American company also undertook delivery at an earlier date. The value of the contract is rather over £100,000.

I am informed by the Ministry of Labour that the total amount paid in respect of unemployment donation in Glasgow since the inception of the scheme is approximately £1,400,000. I am not in a position to give the wages estimate asked for, but I may point out that the amount is obviously comparatively small and that the iron and steel trades of the country are at present very fully occupied and unable to meet all the demands upon them.

Brigadier-General CROFT

In view of the financial situation of the U.S.A. and of the economic situation and the labour position in view of unemployment, will the hon. Gentleman state when the House is going to be informed what the definite trade policy of the Government is, in order that manufacturers may prepare for these contracts, which ought to be preserved to this country?


That question ought to be addressed to the Leader of the House.

Lieut.-Colonel MURRAY

How much of that million unemployed was actually paid to steelworkers?


I cannot answer that without notice.

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