HC Deb 21 November 1949 vol 470 cc22-3
40. Mr. Blackburn

asked the Minister of Supply what quantities of finished automobile body sheet have been sent to France to date in the year 1949; and what quantities have been authorised for export for the remainder of this year and for the four periods of next year.

Mr. G. R. Strauss

No finished automobile body sheet has been sent to France or authorised for export.

Mr. Blackburn

While I am glad to have that answer, in view of the rumours on this subject which are so frequent in the motor industry, may I ask whether my right hon. Friend will be good enough to say a word about the actual exports of steel to France and the agreements covering them?

Mr. Strauss

There is an arrangement between the British and the French steel industries whereby we obtain a very substantial quantity of steel from France against which we export very small quantities of semi-fabricated steel. It may be that that arrangement gave rise to these rumours.

Mr. Frederic Harris

Does the Minister appreciate that, owing to instructions given to certain manufacturers in this country on steel, some Empire orders for cars cannot be executed, while orders for French cars can be executed? Therefore, we are losing trade to the French very considerably.

Mr. Strauss

I am not aware of any motor manufacturer whose exports to dollar or sterling areas are held up by the lack of sheet steel.

Mr. Harris

Can the Minister give that absolute assurance? I understand that it is so.

Mr. Strauss

What I have said is that I am not aware of any manufacturer of cars who is held up in exports to these particular countries through lack of sheet steel.