HC Deb 11 July 1939 vol 349 cc2038-9
29 Mr. Ellis Smith

asked the President of the Board of Trade, (1) whether he is aware that it is now possible to generate electric current at a cost which compares favourably with most water-power countries, and thus to introduce or expand many industries; and, seeing that with the latest developments all the electro-metallurgical and subsidiary chemical processes should be centralised around large-scale power plants, and in view of the urgent need to marshal the full resources of the country, will he indicate what action he proposes to take;

(2)whether he is aware of the need to develop the electro-metallurgical and electro-chemical industries; will he take action to deal with the problems involved in view of their basic national importance; and will such action be taken at once- having regard to the economic and other factors, the need to stimulate the de pressed coal mining areas and develop the electrolytic processes and the production of ferrosilicon, molybdenum, titanium, and ferrovanadium;

(3)whether he will arrange for an early meeting of the Imperial Economic Committee, the Electricity Commissioners, and the Import Duties Advisory Committee, in order to consider the need for immediate action in order to bring the country into the position it should be in view of recent developments in the electro-chemical industries with particular regard to our needs in calcium-carbide, ferroalloys, copper refining, and the production of aluminium and magnesium, and, also, the need for several national modern steam-power plants, planned and erected and linked up on the same site, the production of by-products and synthetic-organic plants?

The President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Oliver Stanley)

I am aware that recent developments in the production of electricity in this country have tended to reduce the advantage of water power over steam power, with the result that the advantage of the former for the production of various materials is diminishing. A wide range of materials is already produced in this country in the electric furnace or by electrolytic processes, and I understand that other projects are in contemplation. The interests concerned in this country are in close touch with new developments and are watching for opportunities of expansion and I shall, of course, welcome any well considered schemes for the creation of new enterprises.

Mr. Boothby

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider introducing the Caledonian Power Bill as a Government Measure and as a well-considered scheme?

Mr. Stanley

The hon. Member's question referred to the increasing advantages of coal as compared with water power.