§ 20. Mr. Simmons
asked the Minister of State, Board of Trade, as representing the Minister of Materials, whether he is aware that there is at present a shortage of copper; and what undertakings he obtained from the producers for a regular supply before removing controls from the trade.
§ The Minister of State, Board of Trade (Mr. Heathcoat Amory)
There is no serious shortage of copper at present, and such local shortages as do exist while the market is becoming adjusted are met by the Government broker for the time being. The producers were not asked to give formal undertakings about supply to this country after the market opened. With the return of copper to private trading it was for the consumers to arrange for their own supplies. The Government, nevertheless, did obtain from the Commonwealth producers informal assurances of their continuing attention to United Kingdom needs.
§ Mr. Simmons
Is the Minister quite satisfied that copper is not being held off the market by producers in an attempt to squeeze consumers who hedged on 5th August to buy when control came off?
I do not think there is any evidence of that at all. The comparatively small number of users who may be short 747 may well be those who failed to take advantage of the facilities that were available to them to cover in time.
§ Mr. Simmons
Is it not a fact that the intervention of the Government broker on 21st October did indicate a shortage in the pipeline?
The Government broker has been instructed to release quantities from Government stocks, of course, to meet the needs of those who are short, and that he is endeavouring to do.
§ 21. Mr. Simmons
asked the Minister of State, Board of Trade, as representing the Minister of Materials, what policy is followed in the release of stocks of copper still held by the Government.
Her Majesty's Government are anxious to ensure that private trade takes over fully the responsibility for securing adequate supplies for the the United Kingdom market. Until further notice the Ministry of Materials is prepared to release copper, usually through the Government broker, and at a small premium so as to avoid interference with the establishment of normal commercial arrangements, to those consumers who have not covered all their requirements from commercial sources.