HC Deb 13 April 1938 vol 334 cc1120-1
47. Mr. David Adams

asked the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence whether, in view of the rejection by the House of the Caledonian Power Bill, the Government will take into consideration the desirability of establishing plant for the production of calcium carbide in one of the Special Areas, preferably that in the coalfield of county Durham?

48. Mr. Walker

asked the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence whether, in view of the rejection of the Caledonian Power Bill by the House of Commons, the Government will give consideration to the establishment of plants to produce calcium carbide by the coke-oven gas method, which plants can be easily established in any of the depressed coal and iron-producing areas, such as Lanarkshire, Durham and South Wales, thereby giving employment in these areas and stimulating and cheapening the cost of pig-iron production in this country?

Sir T. Inskip

As I understand the hon. Members, they have in mind the provision of Government factories for the production of calcium carbide. I do not think that such provision would be appropriate in this case, the direct Government requirements being very small. If, however, the hon. Members have in mind production by private enterprise, I know no reason why persons interested should not undertake such production, should they choose to do so.

Mr. Adams

Has the right hon. Gentleman given consideration to any suggestion that this proposed factory should be set up in County Durham?

Sir T. Inskip

If the hon. Member means a suggestion that it should be set up by private enterprise, I think I have answered that part of the question. I may add, however, that I should most wholeheartedly welcome any factory set up by private enterprise.

Mr. Bevan

Has any private concern intimated to the right hon. Gentleman its intention to produce the British requirement of carbide in this country?

Sir T. Inskip

The only concern which has indicated its intention to provide calcium carbide is the British Oxygen Company, which, in accordance with the undertaking it gave, is proceeding with the erection of a factory at Port Talbot. That factory will not be sufficient, having regard to the size of the unit which it is intended to erect, to provide the whole of the British requirement.

Mr. Bevan

Is it the right hon. Gentleman's intention to impress upon the British Oxygen Co. the necessity of extending the plant at Port Talbot to produce the requirement of the Government? Is there any reason why they cannot produce it?

Mr. Boothby

Is there any reason why they should?