HC Deb 02 April 1953 vol 513 cc1340-1
10. Mr. Harold Davies

asked the President of the Board of Trade what orders have been offered by China for Welsh tinplate.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

I have been informed that a South Wales tinplate manufacturer was recently approached about the supply of some 10,000 tons of tinplate said to be required by the Chinese Government. I have also heard that other inquiries for tinplate for China have been received by the tinplate industry, but I am not in a position to give details of the quantities involved. The supply of this tinplate would be contrary to our strategic controls.

Mr. Davies

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the position in the tinplate industry, and of the fact that there is some doubt whether the demand at the moment for the products of the hand mills will revive sufficiently to stop the permanent closing of the remaining 114 hand mills in South Wales? I beg the right hon. Gentleman, if he is in a position to do so, to send the orders to China, even if he has to obtain permission of Senator Battle or somebody else. Otherwise we shall have to shoulder the difficulties of unemployment in the South Wales tinplate industry.

Mr. Thorneycroft

The hon. Gentleman is raising rather wider issues. The Question refers to the export of tinplate to China, and I said that, although these orders have been offered for the export of tinplate, they would, as the hon. Gentleman knows, be contrary to the existing control.

Mr. H. Wilson

Is the Minister not aware that the case for at least some review of the control is now very long overdue? While we all recognise that it will not be possible to make large shipments to China if we cannot get payment from them, cannot we take a leaf out of Ceylon's book and see how far it is possible to export to China against China's exports of rice to the sterling area?

Mr. Thorneycroft

The right hon. Gentleman is aware that the application of these strategic controls was begun by my predecessor in the previous Government. Circumstances have not changed so dramatically as to justify substantial alterations at the present time.