HC Deb 07 May 1951 vol 487 cc1557-8
2. Mr. Blackburn

asked the Minister of Supply what steps he is taking to ensure that the automobile and ancillary industries are supplied with sufficient raw materials to enable them to work to full capacity.

The Minister of Supply (Mr. G. R. Strauss)

These industries receive their due share of controlled materials. I regret that there is unlikely to be an early improvement in the supply of these materials.

Mr. Blackburn

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that it is absolutely vital that these important industries should work to maximum capacity? In view of that, will he immediately reconsider the export of iron castings, and perhaps also of some forms of steel, so that the maximum amount of steel may be made available to these industries?

Mr. Strauss

Yes, Sir. The maximum amount is made available to these industries, but they have not been working to capacity at any time since the war. We very much regret that, owing to the falling-off in imports of sheet steel, we cannot supply these industries with all the steel they require.

Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd

Is the Minister making any special arrangements about the supply of steel for that part of the automobile industry which is working for re-armament?

Mr. Strauss

The difficulty with the automobile industry is mainly the inability to get sheet steel, owing to lack of imports. There are also some other difficulties; some non-ferrous metals are scarce.

Mr. Lloyd

May I ask the Minister whether, in addition to the difficulty about sheet steel, he would be prepared to receive representations from me about the shortage of tubular steel which I found in the King's Norton factory centre on Saturday, and which is required for jeeps being made to the order of the Government under the re-armament programme?

Mr. Strauss

I should be very happy to look into any representations which the right hon. Gentleman may make to me.

Sir Ralph Glyn

In view of the urgency of the re-armament programme, will the right hon. Gentleman consider those industries which are not working to full capacity, and do whatever he can to see that what is not required by them is diverted to the armaments programme?

Mr. Strauss

Yes, Sir; so far as it is possible to do so. We have asked all major contractors to do as much subcontracting as they can, in cases where there is vacant capacity and available labour.

Mr. George Ward

What does the Minister expect will be the production of the new mill at Margam? How soon will it be in production and what difference will that production make to the automobile industry?

Mr. Strauss

I cannot give exact figures; it should be in full production at the end of the year, and should relieve the situation to some extent.