HC Deb 11 June 1952 vol 502 cc178-9
3. Mr. F. Willey

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty what steps he has taken to meet the complaints made to him by the industry about the allocation of steel to shipbuilding; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Digby

The Government intend to increase the allocation of steel for merchant shipbuilding as soon as supplies permit. Unfortunately, for the reason given by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Supply on 30th May in a written reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Dulwich (Mr. Robert Jenkins), the total steel supplies for the third quarter of this year will be less than in the second quarter, and a very slight reduction in the shipbuilding allocation has been unavoidable. It is impossible at present to forecast the level of steel supplies that will be available in the last quarter of the year.

Mr. Willey

While appreciating the hon. Gentleman's difficulties, may I ask him whether he realises that this is very disturbing news to the shipbuilding industry? Quite apart from the amount of steel allocated, the industry is somewhat disappointed at the way in which it is being allocated at present. Some quite important jobs are being held up for the want of the required steel at the required time.

Mr. Digby

I know there may have been difficulties about getting the steel at the right moment, but I was not aware of any difficulty about the method by which the allocations have been made.

Mr. Chetwynd

Has the fall in the allocation for the third quarter any connection with the fall in shipments of steel from the United States of America?

Mr. Digby

I should require notice of that question.

Mr. Blenkinsop

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this news about the third quarter's allocation and the dangers concerning the fourth quarter is very disappointing indeed to all of us concerned with the shipbuilding position, since it has importance for the whole trade situation of this country?

Mr. Digby

I think we are fully aware of those difficulties, and have them constantly in mind.

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