HC Deb 09 December 1974 vol 883 cc21-2
15. Mr. Hoyle

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what is his policy towards the achievement of profitability within the public sector of industry.

Mr. Gregor Mackenzie

I would refer my hon. Friend to the Budget Statement by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 12th November when he said that it was his objective to phase out subsidies in compensation for price restraint as soon as possible.

Mr. Hoyle

I am indebted to my hon. Friend for his statement. Will he be kind enough to inform Dr. Monty Finniston that it is no part of the Government's policy to hive off the nationalised industries or sections of them when they become profitable? To use the words of Dr. Finniston, if it had not been for nationalisation there would be no steel industry today. May I also suggest that if Dr. Finniston feels he cannot comply with this policy his resignation would be welcomed?

Mr. Mackenzie

As one who for a very long time has represented a steel constituency, I can heartily endorse my hon. Friend's comments. We were very conscious many years ago that many of our steelworks would have had to close but for the intervention of the State and the taking of the industry into public ownership. As to allowing the BSC to hive off profitable parts of the industry, I can assure my hon. Friend that we have no intention of doing anything of the kind.

Mr. Wyn Roberts

Why have imports of iron and steel from the EEC risen by 122 per cent. in the first 10 months of this year compared with the same period last year? Does not the Minister agree that it would be beneficial not only for employment in the steel industry but for our trade deficit with the EEC if the industry in Britain produced more than at present?

Mr. Mackenzie

That is quite another question. If the hon. Member wants it answered, he should put it down in that form.