HC Deb 12 February 1973 vol 850 cc962-4
10. Mr. Ashley

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he proposes to make a further statement about the productive capacity of the British Steel Corporation.

Mr. Peter Walker

I have already announced a 10-year strategy for the modernisation and expansion of BSC's productive capacity. Further details are contained in the White Paper on the strategy published on 8th February, Cmnd. 5226.

Mr. Ashley

Has the right hon. Gentleman noted the fine productivity record of Shelton Steelworks with existing inadequate equipment? Is he aware that if electric are furnaces were installed the investment of £4 million that is required would be repaid within a year and the existing profits would be doubled to £5 million a year?

Mr. Walker

There is no intention in the immediate future for closure of Shelton to take place. The British Steel Corporation has pursued a policy of giving all the financial facts which result in its decisions being given to those concerned. I am sure that if and when a closure comes, as far as Shelton is concerned this will be provided.

Mr. Skeet

Does my right hon. Friend agree that productivity investment depends on demand and relative prices and that to have too high a productivity capacity which the market cannot warrant would not be in the interests of the steel industry?

Mr. Walker

There is a need in any strategy for flexibility, and I believe that in the strategy approved by the Government there is that flexibility. We must have modern steel plants that can compete with our major overseas competitors.

Mr. Golding

Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether it is certain that a steel-producing mini-plant will be provided at Irlam, Bilston or Shelton? Will he further tell us what length of life that steel-producing plant is expected to have?

Mr. Walker

That is a separate question. I do not know the details of the answer. I will write to the hon. Gentle- man or he can put a Question on the Order Paper.