HC Deb 16 July 1962 vol 663 cc26-7
33. Mr. Lee

asked the Minister of Power what directions he has given to the Iron and Steel Board under Section 11 of the Iron and Steel Act, 1953.

Mr. Wood

None, Sir.

Mr. Lee

Will the right hon. Gentleman cause an inquiry to be made into steel imports in the last twelve months, and particularly into the type of people importing steel? Is it the case that members of the British Iron and Steal Federation, which last year mounted a very powerful lobby to get an increase in British prices, are importing cheap steel, some from South Africa, including billets and strip, and processing and selling it at British prices, while very large number of steelworkers in Britain are unemployed or are on short-time?

Mr. Wood

I will do my best to collect any information which the hon. Gentleman thinks may be helpful to me, but that point does not seem to be closely connected with the Question.

Mr. M. Foot

Since the Minister has said that he will inquire into this question, will he undertake to tell the House his findings? If it were found that a number of steel firms were importing steel which could be made in this country, would not that be most reprehensible?

Mr. Wood

If it is in order to answer a Question on the lines which the hon. Gentleman has in mind, I am always ready to do so.

Mr. Shinwell

Is the Minister aware that the Question was framed in this fashion because of the difficulty of getting an appropriate Question across the Table? Is he further aware that the real trouble is that the steel firms in this country are engaged in a most despicable racket—

Mr. Nabarro


Mr. Shinwell

—in reducing their capacity, or not using their capacity to its fullest extent, purchasing cheap steel from abroad and selling it to consumers in this country at the high prices fixed by the right hon. Gentleman some time ago?

Mr. Wood

I think that that supplementary question was framed to give rather than to get information. I certainly realise that the Question was put down in this way because it might not have been easy to get an appropriate Question past the Table. If it is difficult to get an appropriate Question past the Table, it is probably improper for me to answer it.

Forward to