HC Deb 15 January 1986 vol 89 cc1059-60
3. Mr. Hayes

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the EEC-USA steel agreement.

Mr. Peter Morrison

The new EC-USA steel arrangement, ratified by the Council of Ministers on 10 December, is generally acceptable to the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom delayed ratification for several weeks, during which assurances were obtained from the United States authorities on adequate access for BSC exports of semi-finished steel to Tuscaloosa Steel of Alabama under an existing long-term contract.

Mr. Hayes

I congratulate my hon. Friend on achieving what appears to be a satisfactory settlement to a very thorny problem. Does he accept that that was done through painstaking negotiation?

Mr. Morrison

I assure my hon. Friend that the negotiations were long, complicated and difficult. However, it was essential for the steel corporation that we hung out for what we obtained.

Dr. Bray

Does the Minister acknowledge that the level of exports of slabs to the United States, permitted by the United States, is nowhere near adequate to maintain Ravenscraig without Gartcosh?

Mr. Morrison

I do not acknowledge that. As the hon. Gentleman is aware, by and large the deal that we obtained, with the exception of that part relating to Tuscaloosa, was based on current exports.