HC Deb 28 May 1936 vol 312 cc2163-5

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that the site of the old steelworks and the adjoining shipyard at Jarrow arc suitable for the revival of the steel industry there, and that the starting of such works would find employment for some thousands of men, many of whom had been trained to this kind of heavy industry in this distressed area; and whether he has taken any action to encourage the starting of the proposed works?


I have, of course, the fullest sympathy with any scheme which would afford increased employment, and particularly with one which would stimulate a revival of industry in the Special Areas. As regards the last part of the question, I would refer my hon. Friend to the replies on this subject to be given to-day by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the project of a steelworks in Jarrow is in great jeopardy owing to the unreasonable attitude adopted in certain quarters, and will he do all he can to see that these men, who have been trained to steelwork, are given an opportunity of resuming their normal employment?


Perhaps my hon. Friend will await the answers to later questions on the subject.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the erection of such a plant would be uneconomical and have the effect of throwing men on Tees-side out of work?

68 and 73. Sir J. JARVIS

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) whether he has taken any steps to remove the hindrances which have prevented the rebuilding of the steelworks at Jarrow-on-Tyne during the past 18 months; and, if not, whether, in view of the admitted inability of the present steelworks to produce the growing requirements of the country, he will see that such hindrances are removed;

(2) whether, seeing that the proposals for the steelworks at Jarrow are proceeding in the normal course, he will see what help can be given to the financing of this scheme; and that no financial hindrance be placed in the way of those desirous of raising capital for the revival of this industry?

69 and 72. Mr. MAGNAY

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) whether he is aware that this country could, it is computed. when on full production, annually absorb 3,000,000 tons of basic bessemer steel, but that only 10 per cent. of s such steel is at present produced in this country; and whether he will take steps to further the erection of steelworks on the Tyne to increase the production of such material;

(2) whether he will consider preparing a scheme for the manufacture of steel with a variety of finishing processes which, whilst likely to be profitable in peace time, could be so equipped as to be available for the rapid production of armaments and munitions; and whether he will consider the claims of Jarrow-on-Tyne, one of the worst distressed areas, for the erection of such a plant forthwith.

Captain EUAN WALLACE. (Secretary, Overseas Trade Department)

The proposal for a new steelworks at Jarrow is a matter primarily for the interests concerned, who are, I understand, still considering the possibilities of a scheme. There has been no proposal that the Government should undertake the manufacture of steel as suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead (Mr. Magnay), and I am not aware that difficulty has been 'caused by the failure of responsible promoters of a scheme to obtain capital.


Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that on the Special Areas Reconstruction Bill the Chancellor of the Exchequer stated, as one of the achievements of the Government, that these steel works have already been started?


Would it not be possible to take some further steps to elucidate the mystery as to why the scheme has been hindered for so long, and will my hon. and gallant Friend institute an inquiry at which the evidence of all parties concerned may be heard as to the reason for the delay, which is not only preventing unemployed workmen in Jarrow resuming employment, but keeping them definitely out of employment for 12 months longer than is necessary?


I hope there is no mystery to elucidate. If my hon. Friend has any representations to make, we should be very glad to hear them.


Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman interest himself in the matter, having regard to the declaration of the Chancellor of the Exchequer?


The Government do not intend to set up the steel works on their own.

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