HC Deb 09 July 1968 vol 768 cc185-6
13. Mr. Hall-Davis

asked the Minister of Power what proposals he has for securing a reduction in the volume of imports of bulk steel into the United Kingdom and an increase in the volume of exports.

Mr. Freeson

We are studying this problem with the other Departments concerned, and with the industry. The excess of world steel-making capacity makes it very difficult.

Mr. Hall-Davis

In view of the fact that the value of bulk steel imports in the first four months of 1968 was as great as for the whole of 1965, will the hon. Gentleman agree that this is not just a matter for study but one of the gravest concern when seen in the context of our balance of payments position?

Mr. Freeson

We accept that there should be concern, and we are concerned in this matter. However, it is not confined to this country. There is a world excess of steel-making capacity, and there are international consultations and studies going on, in which we are participating.

Mr. Patrick Jenkin

Will the hon. Gentleman recollect that the consultations and studies to which he has referred were initiated by his right hon. Friend's last predecessor but one? What progress are they making? Does he not agree that it is useless for industries in different countries to engage in what is tantamount to mutual dumping?

Mr. Freeson

There is no progress to be reported at this stage. The discussions and studies are continuing. It is, of course, open to the industry to request anti-dumping action to be taken by the Government. But this is not merely confined to this country. There is a world excess of steel-making capacity, and it must be clear that, if there is to be international agreement, it must be mutually arrived at.