HC Deb 06 April 1965 vol 710 cc229-31
25. Mr. Ridley

asked the Minister of Power what figures he has received from the Iron and Steel Board with regard to the net earnings of foreign exchange of the steel industry in the five years 1955 to 1959 and the five years 1960 to 1964, respectively; and if he will publish them.

Mr. Frederick Lee

I am publishing in the OFFICIAL REPORT a table setting out the information which the Iron and Steel Board has been able to supply about the import and export of iron and steel products, and the import of raw materials used in the manufacture of iron and steel.

Mr. Ridley

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in the first five years the balance was £78 million and that in the second five years it was £271 million? In view of this very satisfactory export performance, in increasingly competitive conditions, will the right hon. Gentleman cease to denigrate the export performance of the steel industry?

Mr. Lee

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for the answer that he has given to his own question. There can be no possible doubt that imports costing many hundreds of millions of pounds had to be brought in before 1961 because of the lack of capacity in the United Kingdom steel industry. Indeed, the Iron and Steel Board said in its development report of 1964: In view of the dependence of the British economy on exports, it is vitally important that the industry should succeed in achieving a greater volume of exports.

Mr. Maxwell

Will my right hon. Friend also publish the facts showing that the steel industries of the Common Market countries, the United States, and Japan, have increased their exports far more substantially than private industry steel has done in this country?

Hon. Members

They are all privately owned.

Mr. Lee

It is the case at the moment that exports throughout the world are increasing and that our exports have increased, but I do not believe that any increase has taken place in our share of world markets.

Mr. Ridley

Would the right hon. Gentleman admit that as the steel industry has recovered from nationalisation it has become a very large earner of foreign exchange?

Mr. Lee

I think the fact that the steel industry was wantonly denationalised stopped it from making a far better performance than it might have done.

The following is the table:

£ million
Period f.o.b. value of exports* of iron and steel products c.i.f. value of imports†of raw materials c.i.f. value of imports of finished iron and steel products by consumers
1955–59 897.1 650.0 204.8
1960–64 993.0 580.3 201.1
* Including exports of pig-iron, blast furnace ferro-alloys and iron ore, in addition to iron and steel products; but excluding exports of goods manufactured from steel.
† Including imports of pig-iron, ferro-alloys, scrap, ore, and semi-finished steel products; but excluding imports of refractories, fuel oil and coating materials.