HC Deb 11 December 1956 vol 562 cc200-1
11. Mr. Albu

asked the President of the Board of Trade what discussions he has had with the Iron and Steel Board on the construction of a new plate mill.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

I am discussing steel plate production with the Iron and Steel Board and attention is being given to effecting an expansion of capacity. The Iron and Steel Board is considering some projects for additional plate capacity, but is not yet in a position to make an announcement.

Mr. Albu

In view of the time it will take to construct a new plate mill and the very largely increased demands there will be for plate for super-tankers, for the atomic energy programme and oil storage, does not the President think the time has come when we should introduce some method of allocation in accordance with priorities, if we are not to have very severe economic difficulties?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I do not think a large-scale allocation scheme would really help at present. What is important is that we should have new capacity and I am discussing that with the Iron and Steel Board, which will make an announcement when it is ready.

Mr. Chetwynd

Is this new capacity proposed to be with an existing firm, or will it be under the powers which the Minister has to set it up under his Department, if he so wishes?

Mr. Thorneyeroft

Perhaps the hon. Member will await an announcement by the Board.