17. Mr. Gresham Cooke
asked the Paymaster-General what steps he is taking to see that the forward planning of the steel industry is such that it will provide the British motor and other exporting industries with sufficient sheet steel to enable them to compete with Continental manufacturers, particularly in view of possible Common Market developments.
§ Mr. Maudling
The Iron and Steel Board has informed my noble Friend that substantial expansions of steel sheet capacity are in progress, and that it is now considering further extensions of capacity with the steel industry. The Board maintains close touch with the motor and other industries, so that all requirements for steel sheet may be fully taken into account in forward planning.
Mr. Gresham Cooke
Would my right hon. Friend inform his right hon. Friend that there is a fear that if industrial production continues to rise in the next few months there may be a shortage of sheet steel later in the year, particularly for the exporting industries? Would he, therefore, do everything he can to induce the steel industry to go on increasing its sheet steel production?
§ Mr. Maudling
Yes. The question of the supply of sheet steel is very important, and my noble Friend is giving attention to it at the moment. I think that any possibility of shortage in the near future is likely to arise from the recession in the motor industry having led to certain delaying of orders.
§ Mr. Ernest Davies
Would not the position be much improved if the industry had remained nationalised?