HC Deb 06 November 1950 vol 480 cc572-4
12. Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

asked the Minister of Supply what steps are being taken to ensure fair allocations to industrial users of rolled steel production.

14. Mr. Redmayne

asked the Minister of Supply whether he is aware that since August, 1950, stock-holding merchants of steel have been short of supply owing to an extension of delivery to 15 to 18 months from the mills; and what is the reason for this shortage.

Mr. G. R. Strauss

All steel, other than sheets and tinplate, was freed from distribution control last May and no allocation to industrial users is now made. Extensive additional buying, following the outbreak of war in Korea and the announcement of the Government's rearmament programme, is causing delay in obtaining supplies.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there are a number of firms who are hoarding steel in anticipation of Government orders that may never come their way, and will he put into effect a system of allocation to avoid this abuse, which is already having serious economic consequences on firms who are not misbehaving in this way?

Mr. Strauss

I do not think that we are justified at the moment in reimposing our steel allocation scheme.

Mr. Peter Roberts

Is not it a fact that certain orders of steel are earmarked for the right hon. Gentleman's Department, and that the firms concerned have not been given conversion orders, with the result that there is steel lying idle at the moment? Can the Minister give an undertaking that there will be no such delays in future?

Mr. Strauss

I would be grateful if the hon. Gentleman would give me the information on which he bases that question.

Mr. Chetwynd

Will my right hon. Friend look into the position of small firms who cannot get their orders direct from the works and who have to go through merchants?

18. Mr. Parker

asked the Minister of Supply why the steel allocation for Briggs Bodies, Dagenham, is to be cut in January by 25 per cent.

Mr. G. R. Strauss

Briggs Motor Bodies do not receive an allocation of steel for production from my Department but obtain supplies from their customers. Allocations have not yet been made for the first quarter of 1951, but owing to the difficulty in importing sheet steel there may have to be some reduction in the allocation to the industry.

Mr. Parker

In view of the importance of car exports, can an arrangement be made to see that adequate supplies of steel are available for key industries?

Mr. Strauss

We get all the sheet steel we can. We have been importing considerable quantities from the United States. We hope to be able to continue to do that, but it appears that there is very little available there and we may have to forgo some of our normal United States imports.