HC Deb 12 March 1951 vol 485 cc1038-9
10. Mr. Robert Carr

asked the Minister of Supply whether he is satisfied that sufficient quantities of the right quality of steel are, and will continue to be, available to the manufacturers of ball bearings to enable them to meet the essential requirements of the engineering industries.

Mr. G. R. Strauss

Sufficient supplies of steel of the types required by the manufacturers of ball and roller bearings are being maintained. Manufacturers have been asked to furnish estimates of their forward requirements and every effort will be made to meet essential needs.

Mr. Carr

In speaking about future requirements, is the Minister taking into account the present shortage of ball bearings for armament orders and therefore allowing for an extra production of that type of article?

Mr. Strauss

Yes, as far as we are aware, the ball bearing making companies have been able to get the supplies which they require to maintain their present output, though sometimes with some difficulty.

Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that one of the largest firms manufacturing these bearings, in the Midlands, have lately been warned that they can have only 80 per cent. of their requirements of steel during period 2, which I understand starts almost at once?

Mr. Strauss

No, and I should like to have information about that.

Mr. Sandys

In view of the acute shortage of ball bearings which we experienced in the last war, can the Minister say what steps he is taking to expand our production or, alternatively, to stock-pile ball bearings from Sweden and other manufacturing countries?

Mr. Strauss

There has been some expansion of the ball bearing industry recently, but until we have further information from the ball bearing companies, which we have asked for, it is impossible at this stage to say to what extent we shall be able to cover our own ball bearing needs.