HC Deb 18 March 1937 vol 321 c2256
58. Mr. Arthur Henderson

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that, owing to the demands of the armament programme of His Majesty's Government and the manipulations of speculators, the prices of iron, steel and nonferrous metals are still rising; and what steps he is taking to check such rise in price?

Mr. Chamberlain

The position is being carefully watched, but the hon. Member attaches an exaggerated importance to the demands of the armaments programme of His Majesty's Government. These are only a part of the total British demand, and that, in turn, is a small fraction of the world demand. The fundamental cause of the rise in price of these commodities is neither armaments nor speculation, but the rapid progress towards economic recovery over a large part of the world.

Mr. Henderson

Does the Chancellor suggest that the fact that the price of copper bars has increased from £48 to £109 per ton is due to the cause that he has mentioned? Is he aware, at any rate, that many manufacturers in the Midlands are finding that this increased price handicaps them in their home and export trade?

Mr. Chamberlain

I do not think that that is inconsistent with what I said. I said that the fundamental cause was the general recovery. The hon. Member will no doubt have in mind the fact that prices had fallen, in consequence of the depression, to a level far below that at which they were in previous years.

Mr. Lawson

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the price of copper has nearly doubled in two months?