HC Deb 02 August 1966 vol 733 cc230-1
14. Mr. Grant

asked the Minister of Power how many extra civil servants will be required as a result of the nationalisation of steel; and what their annual cost will be.

Dr. Bray

The Iron and Steel Board will be wound up and there will be some J movement of staff from the Board to the f Corporation and possibly to the Ministry; but it is too early to say what the overall result will be.

Mr. Grant

Is it not absolutely ludicrous in the present economic situation at a time like this in the history of our country that the Government should be bringing in this absurd, irrelevant Measure without making an estimate of the increased turnover which will flow from it?

Dr. Bray

I think the hon. Member did not follow the Answer. It is not at all clear that there will be any increase in staff. The purpose of steel nationalisation is to increase the efficiency of the industry and to help it to contribute materially to economic needs.

Mr. O'Malley

Is it not true that under the existing organisation of the steel industry the Federation has a bureaucracy of about 500 staff and the Iron and Steel Board has about 120, whereas previously under public ownership there were never more than 20 civil servants working for the organisation?

Dr. Bray

I understand that to be the case.

19. Mr. J. H. Osborn

asked the Minister of Power if he will request the Iron and Steel Board under Section 16 of the Iron and Steel Act, 1953, to report to him on the value of each major capital project being undertaken by steel companies scheduled in the Iron and Steel Bill, the method of financing of each such project, and the estimated cost in the years ending 31st December, 1966, and 31st December, 1967, respectively; if he will tabulate this information in the OFFICIAL REPORT; and which projects will be cut back or postponed as a result of the measures to cut back capital expenditure in the public sector.

Mr. Marsh

Section 16 of the Iron and Steel Act, 1953, does not empower me to call for information of this kind.

Mr. Osborn

Can the Minister state how the capital projects already announced for the steel industry will now be financed, whether his Ministry will be called upon to finance projects already announced, and whether there is enough money in the "kitty" for doing so? If not, is he not well aware that people in the industry will suffer from loss of capital investment in an industry which last week the Minister stated needed it?

Mr. Marsh

There is no reason why the industry cannot continue to raise finance in this way. Projects are going through at this moment and finance is rising. The difficulty I am in in answering the Question is that the Act which the hon. Member's party passed gave me no power to require the information for which the hon. Member asks.