§ 5. Mr. Roy Hughes
asked the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with the British Steel Corporation about the future of the industry in Wales; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Hughes
Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman appreciate that his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State 5 for Trade and Industry promised a statement early in the new year about the future investment programme of BSC but that we are still waiting? Meanwhile, will he bear in mind that BSC is going ahead with the proposal to close the tube works at Newport, Monmouthshire, and has also taken a decision to take the iron ore trade from Newport Docks, which will in turn have a major effect on the Spencer Works, which is the cornerstone of the economy of the Newport area? Will he appreciate that this major works will then be at a distinct competitive disadvantage compared with Port Talbot, which is in a development area and has iron ore on the doorstep? How much longer—
§ Mr. Thomas
As the hon. Member knows, I have been in correspondence with him on the matters he mentions. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry will be making a statement very shortly.
§ Mr. Gower
Has my right hon. and learned Friend noted reports of probable massive development of the industry in Scotland? While not objecting in principle to development elsewhere, may I ask my right hon. and learned Friend to look carefully at the claim of Wales to modernisation of a similar kind?
§ Mr. Thomas
I must ask my hon. Friend to await the statement by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. My hon. Friend will appreciate that the BSC investment programme for 1972–73 is a major step forward—a figure of £265 million at 1971 prices compared with £81 million in 1969–70—and that Welsh projects will account for about one-third of the Corporation's investment in 1972–73.
§ Mr. Elystan Morgan
Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman recollect that on 16th December his hon. Friend the then Minister of Industry told the House that the report would be available shortly in the new year? Is he aware that hon. Members on this side of the House know that the report was in the hands of the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on 7th March this year? Is publication delayed because there is a deadlock between the views of the Govern- 6 ment and the views of BSC on the effect of entry into the European Economic Community?
§ Mr. Thomas
The answer to the last part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question is "No ". As to the other part, I cannot add to what I said a moment or two ago, which is that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry will make a statement shortly.