HC Deb 02 April 1979 vol 965 cc912-3
1. Mr. Bowden

asked the Secretary of State for Industry when he expects next to meet the chairman of the British Steel Corporation.

The Secretary of State for Industry (Mr. Eric G. Varley)

I have frequent contact with the chairman on a wide range of matters affecting the Corporation.

Mr. Bowden

Will the Minister seek an early meeting with Sir Charles Villiers to discuss the report in the Sunday Express yesterday that the right hon. Member for Huyton (Sir H. Wilson) wrote a letter to himself and claimed that it came from Sir Charles? If Sir Charles was in any way involved, will the Minister sack him immediately?

Mr. Varley

I did not see the report. However, in view of what the hon. Gentleman has said I shall read it to see whether it requires further investigation.

Mr. Roy Hughes

Will my right hon. Friend be having discussions with the chairman of the British Steel Corporation on more important matters; for example, the future closure programme? Does he agree that the Government would be wise to curtail severely the import of steel? Will he say what discussions, if any, he has had with private companies about their levels of imports? The Ford Motor Company Ltd. at Dagenham seems to be attempting to put the BSC out of of business.

Mr. Varley

We are trying to encourage, as far as practicable, all British companies to use British steel. I have heard reports about the steel being used by Ford. That is being investigated. The market for steel is still being badly affected by the world depression. About 5 million tons of new steel capacity will come on stream in the next few months at Ravenscraig and Redcar. That will seriously affect older plants in the country.

Sir Anthony Meyer

Will the Minister make it plain that no closures have been agreed upon by the Government which have yet to be announced?

Mr. Varley

The policy of the Government on closures was set out in the White Paper "British Steel Corporation: The Road to Viability", which was discussed in the House some time ago and in which we said that any closures must be discussed with the TUC steel committee and the local work force. That policy is being carried out.

Back to
Forward to