HC Deb 26 January 1956 vol 548 c341
9. Mr. Albu

asked the President of the Board of Trade what are the results of his discussions with the Iron and Steel Board about the industry's plans for meeting our requirements of steel, particularly of plate and sheet, in the next five years.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

I am advised by the Iron and Steel Board that steel production is expected to increase over the three years 1956–1958 by more than 3 million ingot tons. Within this overall figure, there will be substantial increases in sheet capacity and some increases towards the end of the period in plate capacity. Plans for succeeding years are under consideration.

Mr. Albu

In view of the fact that we imported £88 million worth of steel last year, and also that because of the growth of the engineering industry and the orders which have been recently received by the shipbuilding industry in particular, the demand for steel will rise, does not the right hon. Gentleman think that he has a certain responsibility for the expansion plan? Are the rumours correct that private firms now owning the bulk of the industry are unwilling to take the risk of this expansion?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I do not think that there is any truth in these rumours, but the hon. Member is quite right to draw attention to the importance of the expansion plan, which is under close consideration by the Board, whose first responsibilty it is.