HC Deb 23 January 1947 vol 432 cc350-1
32. Sir Patrick Hannon

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he has had under review the serious situation created in the steel industry in Sheffield by the reduction to 75 per cent. of the November coal allocations; and, as this decision forces some firms engaged in steel production in Sheffield to be conducted on the basis of a four-day week, when he hopes to restore coal allocation at least to the November level.

Sir S. Cripps

I am aware of the effect on steel production generally of the recent cut in coal allocations, but, in the present coal shortage we must spread cut the loss of industrial output in order to preserve, as far as we can, the right balance in industry. I am in consultation with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Fuel and Power about availabilities of coal for the coming months, with a view to seeing what future arrangements can be made for supplies to industry, including steel.

Sir P. Hannon

Does not this reveal an extraordinary state of affairs in the coal and steel industry of this country? In view of this state of affairs, and the going back to a three-day week because of the absence of coal, how does the right hon. and learned Gentleman hope to maintain the policy of exports?

Sir S. Cripps

Unfortunately we cannot make provision, for using coal which is not there. What we have attempted to do is to spread the available coal in the best possible way over the greatest field of industry.

Major Peter Roberts

Is not the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware of the short sightedness of cutting down the steel programme at this stage, and could he not reconsider the question, which is such a tragic one for Sheffield?

Sir S. Cripps

It has been considered extremely carefully, but it is no use producing steel if the using industries are also falling off in the amount of steel they use. What is intended is to keep a balance between the making and using of steel.

Mr. Henderson Stewart

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that it is the view of those who are best informed in Scotland on both sides of the industry that this cut is having a greater unfortunate effect in Scotland than in other parts of the country?

Sir S. Cripps

I understand that the position in Scotland is better than in other parts of the country.

Mr. Stewart

It is worse.

Sir P. Hannon

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I will raise the matter on the Adjournment.

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