HC Deb 12 April 1920 vol 127 cc1393-4W

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the 112,237 tons of steel plates reported to have been exported during the four months, November to February, would have been sufficient for the construction of 3,300 locomotives, the present value of which is between £30,000,000 and £40,000,000 as against only about £3,000,000, as the value of the steel plates exported; and what steps are being taken, alike on account of the relative higher value of the finished article and on the urgent question of employment, for the immediate restriction of the exportation of steel plates until the demand for our own industries has been fully met; in other words, will priority be granted to manufacturers for their requirements of steel plates?


I regret that the figure given to the hon. Member on 24th March as to the quantity of steel plates exported in the period mentioned was not quite accurate; it should have been 118,929 tons. I am unable to agree with the estimate of the number of locomotives that could have been made from the quantity of plates specified in the question, inasmuch as the greater portion of the plates were of thickness and type unsuited to the construction of locomotives. The question of taking steps to secure that domestic requirements are met is under consideration.