HC Deb 01 May 1952 vol 499 cc1659-60
Mr. G. R. Strauss

(by Private Notice) asked the Minister of Supply what action Her Majesty's Government propose to take, in view of the holding up of licences for the export of steel bought under the agreement concluded with the United States authorities.

The Minister of Supply (Mr. Duncan Sandys)

As the House will appreciate, the situation arising from the steel strike in America is very uncertain. However, my latest information is that export licences have not been stopped. We are in touch with the United States Administration on this matter, and we are confident that in the disposal of available steel supplies they will keep our needs well in mind.

Mr. Strauss

While we are glad to hear that for the second time this threatened embargo has not been put into operation, may I ask if the right hon. Gentleman will bear in mind, in the representations he makes to the United States authorities, that the defence programme of the N.A.T.O. countries must be considered as a whole; and that any interference with or hold-up of the steel on which our defence programme depends would have just as serious consequences as the effect of holding up steel for delivery to the United States armament firms themselves?

Mr. S. O. Davies

It may stop a war.

Mr. Sandys

Any appreciable set-back in the deliveries of American steel upon which we are counting would have serious affects on our industry, but I am quite sure that the United States Administration are well aware of our position. We shall continue to keep in close touch with them.

Mr. Jack Jones

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it would be a good thing if the finished steel were not brought from America but if arrangements were made to get the raw materials so that our workers could work full-time and produce proper steel?

Mr. Sandys

I do not share the view of the hon. Member.