HC Deb 21 April 1952 vol 499 cc13-4
23. Mr. Gerald Nabarro

asked the Minister of Supply what quantities of steel have been received to the latest convenient date against the American purchase of 1,000,000 tons; and what is the anticipated date of completion of shipments.

Mr. Sandys

At the end of the first quarter of this year, about 172,000 long tons of steel, pig iron and scrap for Britain had been delivered at works in the United States or at other sources of supply. Of this 85,000 tons has reached the United Kingdom. It is expected that deliveries at the source of supply will be completed by the end of 1952 in accordance with the agreement.

Mr. Nabarro

Can my right hon. Friend say whether the one million tons of American steel added to the home production of approximately 16 million tons will be adequate to the needs of the defence programme, essential export requirements and other domestic needs?

Mr. Sandys

That is a pretty big question, and it is quite different from the one on the Order Paper. I should like to have notice of it.

Mr. George Chetwynd

In view of the uncertainty that exists in the American steel industry and the effect that this might have on deliveries of steel to this country, will the right hon. Gentleman re-open negotiations with the United States authorities to allow us to purchase ore and scrap direct from Germany and Sweden instead of indirectly through the United States?

Mr. Sandys

That really is the position. So far as we are getting additional ore, for example, from these countries as a result of this agreement we are receiving it direct and not getting it through the United States. What is happening is that the United States buyers are holding off, and so making more ore available in those countries for purchase by us.

Mr. R. Brooman-White

Will my right hon. Friend continue to impress on the Americans the great difficulties of our steel industry at the present time and the benefits of any steps to mitigate those difficulties, such as, in particular, the Americans continuing to make available to us the supplies of raw materials due to them under previous agreements with other European countries?

Mr. Sandys

I think the United States are very well aware of our needs. They have gone a long way to help us in the way suggested by my hon. Friend.

Mr. Sydney Silverman

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that one of the most interesting transactions recently completed at Moscow was the sale for immediate delivery by the Soviet Union to Pakistan of 100,000 tons of steel? Will he consider whether this might reveal a possible alternative source of supply?

Mr. Sandys

Steel from any quarter is very acceptable.