HC Deb 17 November 1958 vol 595 cc824-5
20 and 21. Mr. Marquand

asked the Paymaster-General (1) what was the output of steel ingots in the north-eastern area for the latest week for which information is available; and what proportion of the productive capacity that output represented;

(2) what was the output of pig-iron in the north-eastern area for the latest week for which information is available; and what proportion of blast furnace capacity that output represented.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Power (Sir Ian Horobin)

Sixty-eight thousand five hundred tons of crude steel and 46,800 tons of pig-iron were produced in the north-east coast area in the week ended 8th November. These figures represent about 72 and 70 per cent. of capacity, respectively.

Mr. Marquand

As production is now well under capacity, has the Parliamentary Secretary received any representations from the Iron and Steel Board asking what the Government intend to do to give more work to the steel industry? Has the Board made any suggestions or put forward any plans which might be put into operation to help the industry at this time?

Sir I. Horobin

The whole question of plans along those lines has been very fully dealt with in recent debates in the House, and I do not think that I can add anything by way of answer to a supplementary question.

34. Mr. Palmer

asked the Paymaster-General if he will state the proportion of total British steel output capacity now in use compared with the latest available figure from the European Coal and Steel Community.

Sir I. Horobin

The latest period for which comparable figures are available is the second quarter of the year, when 85 per cent. of the capacity in the United Kingdom was in production, compared with 88 per cent. in the European Coal and Steel Community. I understand that production in this country is now running at about 78 per cent. of capacity.

Mr. Palmer

In view of these figures, will the hon. Gentleman say whether the Government intend to maintain their attitude of apparent indifference to the recession in the British steel industry?

Sir I. Horobin

As I said before, I should not have thought that the recent announcements of increased investment and so on indicated that the Government were indifferent.