HC Deb 11 March 1957 vol 566 cc786-7
29. Mr. Marquand

asked the Paymaster-General what representations he has received from trade unions engaged in the iron and steel industry concerning the offer for sale of the shares of the Steel Company of Wales by the Iron and Steel Holding and Realisation Agency.

Mr. Maudling


Mr. Marquand

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that at a recent meeting in South Wales trade union representatives passed a resolution condemning the return of the Steel Company of Wales to private ownership? Is he aware that there is deep resentment among the steel workers of the whole country that the control of a plant, the vast majority of which was constructed during nationalisation, should now be handed over to people who have done nothing whatever to make that plant what it is?

Mr. Maudling

The Question was whether I had received any representations and the answer is that no such representations have been made. Nor do I see any reason for widespread resentment at the continuation of a process of denationalisation which has been going on very effectively for some time.

Mr. G. R. Strauss

Could the Minister satisfy these trade unions and many of their members, who are disquieted, about one point? As a result of this public issue, 8 per cent. or about £2 million a year is to be paid out of the resources of the industry annually to shareholders who contribute nothing whatever to the manu facture of iron and steel. As this is obviously contrary to the interests of the Steel Company of Wales, its staff and employees, can the Minister explain the purpose of such a transaction?

Mr. Maudling

I think the arguments for the denationalisation of steel were fully canvassed during the passage of the Act in 1953. I do not think there is any reason to suppose, from the experience of denationalisation so far, that the employees of the industry have suffered in any way by that process.