HC Deb 08 November 1944 vol 404 cc1356-8
49. Mr. Ellis Smith

asked the Minister of Supply if he can make a full statement on the administration of the Steel Control, giving the names and concerns with which the administrators were or are connected; what is the average cost of steel compared to 1939 prices; how does the average price of steel compare with world prices and U.S.A. prices in particular; and if it is intended to continue the present form of control after the termination of hostilities.

The Minister of Supply (Sir Andrew Duncan)

As the Answer is rather long, I will, with my hon. Friend's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Smith

Will the right hon. Gentleman agree that the price of steel has a serious effect on the cost of production in industry, and if so will he have an investigation made into the steel industry?

Sir A. Duncan

Perhaps my hon. Friend will look at my reply first.

Mr. A. Edwards

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that British contractors seeking to obtain orders for post-war work abroad are losing contracts for steel to America because America is selling steel £5 a ton cheaper than British steel? How does he propose to deal with that fact?

Sir A. Duncan

I am not aware of any such case, but perhaps the hon. Member will let me have particulars.

Mr. Summers

Will it be possible from my right hon. Friend's reply to determine the effect of the increase in the price of coal on steel prices?

Sir A. Duncan

An increase in the price of coal is obviously an important constituent part of the increase in the price of steel.

Following is the answer:

The Iron and Steel Control, like the other Raw Material Controls, is an executive department of the Ministry of Supply, staffed in the main by technical experts. Policy is determined by the Ministry, acting through its Raw Materials Department, to whom the Control acts as an expert adviser. Import programmes, production programmes, expansion schemes and prices must be approved by the Raw Materials Department and, where necessary, the Ministry of Production. The Control is responsible for the day-to-day working-out of policy. The following list gives the names of the Controller and his principal officers, and of the concerns with which they were associated before joining the Control. They, in common with other members of the Control, are temporary civil servants, and are subject to the conditions of service and considerations laid down by the Treasury for this class of case.


Raw Materials Section:


Supplies Section:


The changes in prices of individual products vary considerably, but, on the average, the cost of British steel to the consumer has increased since 1939 by about 50 per cent. This increased cost reflects to a considerable extent war-time abnormalities in the cost of freight and materials, and is about 25 per cent. above the average of published U.S.A. prices at the current rate of exchange. There is no general world price for steel at present. The precise form and extent of control must depend upon future circumstances, which cannot at present be wholly foreseen.

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