5. Mr. TREVELYAN THOMSON
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the fact that many steel works, equipped with the most modern and up-to-date rolling mills, are working short time, the Government will reconsider the decision of the Trade Facilities Act Committee to grant assistance for the extension of similar plant, seeing that such action will have a detrimental effect on employment at existing works in other districts?
§ 15. Sir PARK GOFF
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the productive capacity of iron and steel is approximately 50 per cent. above pre-War; and why the Government has made a grant of £650,000 for extension of plant to the Appleby Iron Company, where there is ample modern steel-productive plant idle?
§ 51 Captain MACMILLAN
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer(1) whether the Trade Facilities Committee, in considering guarantees, takes account of the productive capacity of modern plant in the trade concerned in relation to the actual or estimated demand;
(2) whether, with reference to the recent decision of the Trade Facilities Committee to provide a guarantee of £650,000 for the extension of works of the Appleby Iron Company, the Committee took any advice from or consulted in anyway the firms at present owning complete and modern rolling-mill plant;
(3) whether he has received the protest of the Tees Conservancy Commissioners against the recent decision of the Trade Facilities Committee to provide a guarantee of £650,000 for the extension of the works of the Appleby Iron Company; and whether he proposes to take any steps in the matter?
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Mr. Ronald McNeill)
With the permission of hon. Members, I will answer these questions together. The Trade Facilities Act Advisory Committee, in considering whether they shall recommend a guarantee to a particular undertaking, take into account the productive capacity of the modern plant in the trade concerned: and they did so before recommending the guarantee to the Appleby 2076 Iron Company. It is not the practice of the Committee to consult or take advice from other firms engaged in the same business, nor are such firms generally in a position to express an impartial judgment on the merits of applications for guarantees. The decision to give a guarantee to the Appleby Iron Company was arrived at after very full consideration of all relevant circumstances, and I see no ground for reconsidering it. It must not be assumed that the effect of the guarantee will necessarily be detrimental to employment at existing works in other districts; on the contrary, I hope that the completion of the new works will result in the securing of orders for this country which at present do not come here, and in a diminution in imports of foreign steel.
§ Captain MACMILLAN
On a point of Order. May I inquire to whom questions should be addressed. If I put a question relating to trade, it is answered by the Treasury; and if I address a question to the Treasury, it is answered by the Board of Trade?