HC Deb 06 July 1937 vol 326 cc169-71
38. Mr. Cocks

asked the President of the Board of Trade the number of tons of iron ore exported from Bilbao to Great Britain for the years 1934, 1935, and 1936, respectively, and for each of the first six months of 1937?

Mr. Stanley

Particulars of imports into the United Kingdom from individual ports are not compiled. With the hon. Member's permission, I will circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT a table showing the quantity of iron ore imported from Spain during the periods specified, but I cannot say what part of these imports was from the area referred to in the question.

Mr. Cocks

In view of the importance of this iron ore to this country, will the right hon. Gentleman take any action necessary to prevent an interruption in the supply? Has he any information about the difficulties of business men get-trig into Bilbao in view of the statement of General Franco that no foreign nationals will be allowed in this territory?

Mr. Stanley

I understood that the hon. Member was more concerned about iron ore coming out of Bilbao than about business men going in. On that point I answered a question of the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris) the other day.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

Has my right hon. Friend's attention been drawn to the statement to-day that the British staff of Orcanora Iron Ore Company have been asked to return to Bilbao and have agreed to do so, and that regular shipments from that mine are expected in future?

Mr. De la Bre

Is it not a fact that Great Britain comes first?

Sir Nairne Stewart Sandeman

Is it not a fact that the questions and the attitude of the Opposition are such as to make business with Spain impossible?

Following is the table:

The total tonnage of iron ore and concentrates (excluding chrome iron ore and pyrites) imported into the United Kingdom and consigned from Spain during the undermentioned periods was as follows:

1934 (year) 1,182,275
1935 (year) 1,128,949
1936 (year) 1,185,833
January 95,458
February 109,587
March 114,598
April 56,740
May 63,373
Particulars in respect of June, 1937, are not yet available.

39. Mr. J. Griffiths

asked the President of the Board of Trade what arrangements have been made to secure the continuance of the supply of iron-ore from Spain upon which many steel plants in this country depend; and whether he has any reason to fear that these supplies will be diverted to other countries in the near future?

Mr. Stanley

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given on 22nd June to a question by the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris).

Mr. Griffiths

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, since he gave that reply, statements have been made that there are certain countries who regard the possession of this ore as very important, and is he aware also that that is causing great concern to many firms in South Wales and elsewhere, which for a generation or more have depended on these supplies? Have any steps been taken since to make sure that these supplies are not interrupted?

Mr. Stanley

These supplies are now in the control of General Franco, and the formal assurance from him, which I gave to the House in response to a question, seems to me more important than the statements by other people outside.

Mr. Griffiths

Has the right hon. Gentleman any assurance beyond that of General Franco that he can give to the trade that these supplies will not be diverted?