47. Captain A. EVANS
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is aware that the £2,000,000 reconstruction scheme at the Cardiff-Dowlais steelworks of the British (Guest, Keen, Baldwins) Iron and Steel Company, Limited, has been delayed because the Import Duties Advisory Committee has refused to announce its policy regarding the prolongation of the 33⅓ per cent. import duty on foreign steel; and will he make a statement on the matter?
I have seen the correspondence referred to and, as my 2096 lion. and gallant Friend will have seen, the letter from the Import Duties Advisory Committee to the members of the National Federation of Iron and Steel Manufacturers has now been published. I do not think I can usefully add anything to the statement of the position by the Import Duties Advisory Committee except that I have every confidence that the industry will take such steps as will afford a reasonable assurance of their intention to carry through whatever reorganisation may be necessary to enable them successfully to meet foreign competition.
May I ask my right hon. Friend if his attention has been drawn to the statement made by the President of the Board of Trade at a luncheon in London on the 11th November last, when he said that the present Government had no intention whatever of withdrawing the support which the import tariff gave to the iron and steel trade.
§ Mr. ANEURIN BEVAN
Is the Chancellor of the Exchequer going to have regard to the consequences upon certain townships and industrial areas of the closing down of certain steelworks under the reorganisation scheme, and are not His Majesty's Government interested in those aspects of the matter?
I welcome the interest which the hon. Member takes in the tariff system. I understand that that is what he is trying to express.
§ Mr. BEVAN
May I ask for an answer to my question? The question which I addressed to the right hon. Gentleman is as follows. Are the Government interesting themselves in the consequences which the reorganisation scheme will have in the closing down of certain steelworks, thus sentencing to death certain townships and industrial districts; and have they taken into account the social consequences involved?
May I ask my right hon. Friend also whether the statement of the President of the Board of Trade to which I have just referred is the considered policy of His Majesty's Government?
I think that my hon. and gallant Friend has omitted in his quotation from my right hon. Friend's 2097 observations a qualification of his statement at the end in regard to the position. With regard to the question put by the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan), I regret that I did not quite catch the point at first. Of course, every change in the organisation of an industry may have the result of concentration in one district and of diminution of employment in another. It is impossible to make any general answer upon such a hypothetical question.
§ Mr. D. GRENFELL
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the Government should not associate themselves with the task of reorganisation in order that all relevant factors may be given due weight in that reorganisation?