HC Deb 17 March 1937 vol 321 cc2060-1
49. Lieut.-Commander Fletcher

asked the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence whether the shortage of steel is causing delays in the Government's armaments programme, and whether the demands of that programme for steel are likely to cause restrictions upon industrial and other building programmes?

The Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence (Sir Thomas I nskip)

The shortage of steel has caused delays in a few minor cases, but they have not so far been serious, and as at present advised I have no reason to suppose that programmes as a whole will be delayed, but I am watching the position carefully.

Mr. Churchill

Is it not nearly time for the appointment of a committee on priorities in respect of this and other basic materials which gradually become a matter of competition between the armaments programme and ordinary industry?

Sir T. Inskip

My right hon. Friend must not understand that there is no machinery for dealing with priority questions.

Lieut.-Commander Fletcher

Does the right hon. Gentleman's reply refer to the latter part of the question concerning industrial and other building programmes?

Sir T. Inskip

Yes, subject to this, that if it is possible for anybody to postpone luxury building, I think that it may be in the public interest.

Mr. James Griffiths

Is not the problem of the shortage of steel partly due to the fact that Franco is diverting to Germany supplies of iron ore which used to come to this country?

Sir T. Inskip

It is impossible to answer that question with a simple "yes" or "no." Undoubtedly the diversion of iron ore supplies by anybody from this country must reduce to some extent the capacity for producing steel.

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