HC Deb 07 April 1925 vol 182 cc2012-3

asked the Prime Minister if he can state how soon the Report of the Balfour Committee on Industry with regard to the iron and steel trades is likely to be available; and, if there is no reasonable prospect of an early Report, will he, in view of the increasing unemployment in these industries, take steps to arrange for a conference between the Government and employers and employed in order that somthing may be done to meet the present position in this industry?

47. Mr. DIXEY

asked the Prime Minister whether he will consider the setting up of a Committee to inquire into the question of subsidisation in the engineering and shipbuilding trades?

The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Baldwin)

The Balfour Committee, which was appointed by my predecessor, was given wide terms of reference covering a large number of industries, of which iron and steel is one. I do not think it would be practicable to interfere with the general course the Committee is pursuing in the taking of evidence and the making of reports. I think the proposal that the Government should convene special conferences in different industries is unnecessary and undesirable. Such conferences are, in fact, taking place; and it is far better that these discussions should be arranged within the industries themselves. The Government are watching closely the economic and industrial situation in the trades to which the questions refer.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the future of employment in these trades is viewed with very great apprehension by all concerned, and, therefore, can he not do something practical to assist them in their present difficulties?


One obvious thing would be that we should buy British steel.


Can the right hon. Gentleman say when the Interim Report of the Balfour Committee is likely to be published, containing information about iron and steel on which they took evidence?


I am afraid I do not know.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that British steel is being sold cheaper on the Continent than here?