HC Deb 13 April 1937 vol 322 cc778-9
44. Mr. J. Griffiths

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that, owing to the increased home demand for finished and semi-finished steel products, producers are refusing orders from overseas markets; and whether, in view of the fact that the increased demand in the home market is of a partially temporary character, he will take steps to prevent the loss of the export trade in these products and thus retain the markets that will be of the utmost value when the home demand declines?

Mr. Runciman

There is an abnormal demand for iron and steel in both home and overseas markets, but I have impressed on the British Iron and Steel Federation, as on other United Kingdom industrialists, when suitable opportunities offered, the necessity of maintaining our export trade. I am satisfied that the Federation are alive to this necessity. The available figures show that exports of iron and steel manufactures so far this year have been larger than in the two preceding years.

Mr. Griffiths

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind the experience of the coal industry during the War when export markets were lost with disastrous results?

Mr. Runciman

I share the anxiety of the hon. Gentleman to maintain our foreign connections as much as we can.

Sir Robert Young

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that some manufacturers are refusing to quote forward prices for steel?

Mr. Runciman

If any case of that kind is brought to my notice, I will inquire into it.