HC Deb 01 July 1974 vol 876 cc6-7
4. Mr. Patrick McNair-Wilson

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will take action to limit the export of wrought nickel, in view of the present shortage facing industry; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Meacher

No, Sir. Although there is a tight supply position in nickel products there is no evidence that export controls would be warranted.

Mr. McNair-Wilson

Is not the Minister aware that as a result of the steep increase in the exports of nickel British manufacturers are having to pay a surcharge of between 12 per cent. and 15 per cent. to import the same product, and that this will necessarily be reflected in the cost of their products to consumers in this country? Will he take action to make sure that this international conspiracy in the nickel market is brought to an end?

Mr. Meacher

The export position of nickel has historically been one in which Britain has been a net exporter. I do not believe that there is a special problem at present, inasmuch as neither producers nor consumers have told us that they have serious difficulties. We have received no complaints or representations about supply. As to the question of an international conspiracy, I draw the hon. Gentleman's attention to the fact that it is as a result of the action of his Government that we can no longer take unilateral action under the regulations of the EEC to impose an export ban.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

Will the Minister examine the role that the Price Commission plays in all this? May we take it that, as usual, it is exacerbating the problems of the customers for wrought nickel and also the balance of payments by pumping wrought nickel out of this country to find more attractive and desirable markets abroad, when it is needed here?

Mr. Meacher

I seem to recall that the Price Commission did not originate on the Labour side of the House, but I am glad to be able to inform the hon. Gentleman that the Price Code is to be reviewed this summer.