HC Deb 24 February 1943 vol 387 cc161-2
48. Mr. Ellis Smith

asked the Minister of Production whether he is satisfied with the supply of steel; have any orders or delivery dates been delayed because of steel supply difficulties; what action is to be taken to expedite and increase the supplies of steel; and has any action been taken to increase the productive capacity of the steel industry?

Mr. Lyttelton

Steel supplies are in general adequate to meet essential war needs. The difficulties that have arisen from time to time have not been abnormal, being mainly related to particular classes of steel. These have been largely overcome. Shipping difficulties place some limit on the expansion of steel supplies, but our limited native resources in raw materials have been and are being adapted to the utmost to supply the types of iron and steel required for the war effort.

Mr. Smith

Is the Minister satisfied that our present production capacity will meet our war needs?

Mr. George Griffiths

Is the Minister aware that there are thousands of tons of steel buried in coalmines which is unusable in the pits? He had better go down and take a look.

Mr. A. Edwards

Does the Minister recognise the great blunder made by the Government in keeping nearly half the blast furnaces idle immediately before the war?

Mr. Smith

Will the present production capacity meet the planned need of the Ministry of Production?

Mr. Lyttelton

Yes, Sir, taking into account the importations. Of course our total productive capacity in steel is insufficient to keep up our full war effort. We have to rely on a balanced quantity from the United States, which, of course, is planned for.