HC Deb 06 December 1955 vol 547 cc184-5
28. Mr. Nabarro

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what effect upon the United Kingdom balance of payments iron, steel, metalliferous scrap and coal imports have had during 1955, compared with 1954; the aggregate sums involved in each of the years concerned; and what fiscal, and other steps he proposes to take to minimise the impact of these imports upon the national economy during 1956, notably in the industrial consumption of coal.

Mr. R. A. Butler

I regret I can only give trade figures. Imports c.i.f. of iron and steel, metalliferous scrap and coal amounted in aggregate to just over £142 million in January to September, 1955, as against £42 million in the corresponding period of 1954, an increase of some £100 million. Recent measures are designed to reduce the burden of such imports on the balance of payments in 1956. In addition, as has already been announced, we shall export a smaller amount of coal in 1956; and I am being supported by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Fuel and Power by the steps he is taking to secure economy in the use of coal by industry, particularly during the winter months.

Mr. Nabarro

As large-scale coal imports are now evidently a permanent feature of our national economy, would my right hon. Friend not reconsider what has been urged upon him by both sides of the House in successive Finance Bill debates during the last few years, namely, offering some fiscal incentive for much greater fuel economy both in the home and in industry?

Mr. Butler

That is a matter which I certainly discuss from time to time with my right hon. Friend the Minister for Fuel and Power.