HC Deb 10 May 1976 vol 911 cc2-4
2. Mr. Roy Hughes

asked the Secretary of State Wales if he has had any recent discussions with the British Steel Corporation concerning future development plans.

The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. John Morris)

My Department maintains close contact with the British Steel Corporation on all matters affecting the steel industry in Wales.

Mr. Hughes

As the Llanwern works is now producing a lot of steel, does my right hon. and learned Friend not feel the time is now opportune to initiate discussions with the BSC with a view to completing the long-overdue iron ore terminal, which is very much part of the future success of this great works?

Mr. Morris

I am aware of the fight that my hon. Friend has put up for this project and for the Newport docks in general over many years. He will know that the primary responsibility for developments of this kind rests with the British Transport Docks Board, in consultation with the BSC. Ministerial responsibility rests with the Minister for Transport. I am sure that my hon. Friend was very pleased with the recent opening of the new access road, which will help Newport docks and for which he has fought very hard for a long time.

Mr. Geraint Howells

In view of the uneasiness in the steel industry in Wales, would the right hon. and learned Gentleman be in favour of establishing a steel corporation for Wales once we have a Welsh Assembly?

Mr. Morris

I see no economic advantage in that kind of suggestion. At the end of March a new Welsh division of the BSC was established, and it has considerable autonomy.

Mr. Cledwyn Hughes

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that the main complaint of steel workers in Wales is the grievous lack of communication between top management and workers in the Welsh plants? In the consideration of future development plans, will he ensure, through his right hon. Friend, that these communications are improved?

Mr. Morris

My right hon. Friend will know that as far as there is any Government responsibility under statute, it is my right hon. Friend's, but these are matters essentially within the province of the corporation itself.

Mr. Nicholas Edwards

In view of the importance of this matter to both Port Talbot and Shotton, and in view of the continuing grave uncertainty about the future of Shotton, can the right hon. and learned Gentleman tell us when we are likely to have a statement on the matter?

Mr. Morris

No one is more aware than my hon. Friend and I of the need for a decision on a matter that is of fundamental importance to the steel industry and the country as a whole. A statement will be made as soon as possible.

Mr. Wigley

Given the labour relations that have existed within the steel industry in Wales, and as a new division has now been established, will the right hon. and learned Gentleman consider the possibility of experimenting with much more direct employee control within the industry to give more industrial democracy within what is, after all, a State corporation?

Mr. Morris

The hon. Member will know that that is not a matter for me. The industrial relations aspects are dealt with in the Act setting up the BSC. Perhaps the hon. Member will look at that and address his question to my right hon. Friend.