HC Deb 01 February 1982 vol 17 c13
15. Mr. Hooley

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what is the present cost of imported tin; and how this compares with the figure 12 months previously.

Mr. Peter Rees

The average cif value of tin imported into the United Kingdom in November 1981 was £8,554 per tonne. The corresponding value for November 1980 was £6,696 per tonne.

Mr. Hooley

Is the Minister aware of the serious damage caused to pewter manufacturers by these wild fluctuations in the international price of tin'? In the light of what has happened in recent times to both silver and tin prices on the international market, are the Government intending to take no action at all in relation to the supply of essential raw materials for British industry? Are the Government content to allow international speculation to take its course?

Mr. Rees

I hope that this is a purely temporary phenomenon. On the question of tin, I understand that the London metal exchange, which, as the House knows, is an independent financial market, is conducting an internal investigation into the present situation, which is, perhaps, unattractively described as "backwardation".

Mr. Teddy Taylor

Does the Minister agree that there might be an improved chance of getting a better deal from the International Tin Council if the Government took every step to improve relations with Malaysia, which have deteriorated sharply?

Mr. Rees

Naturally, the Government regret the momentary diminution of trade with Malaysia. The House will be aware that my right hon. and noble Friend the Foreign Secretary proposes to visit Malaysia in the near future. I have no doubt that he will take the opportunity to raise this problem with the Prime Minister of Malaysia. The high commission in Kuala Lumpur keeps us regularly informed of the situation and about the number of contracts that British firms might have been expected to secure but have not secured.