Mr. G RITTEN
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that there is such a serious scarcity of the supplies in this country of ferro-manganese ore, for which there is no substitute in the manufacture of steel, that, unless the supplies can be speedily and largely increased, a crisis is imminent in the steel trade; whether it it is within his knowledge that great quantities of this ore available in India have been allowed and continue to be permitted to pass into alien and ultimately into late enemy hands, and that, while British users of manganese ore have to go short, there arrived at Antwerp in June 18,500 tons, of which 12,000 tons went to Germany; and whether, in view of these facts, he will recommend an export duty against the export to foreign countries of ferro-manganese ore, or, if not, what immediate measures he proposes to take in order to ensure adequate supplies to British steelmakers?
§ Sir R. HORNE
The position in respect of the supplies of manganese has for some time past been receiving the attention of the Board of Trade in consultation with the India Office. Action has been taken to improve transport conditions in India, which have been restricting exports, and the imports into the United Kingdom have shown a steady improvement in the last three months. The question as to shipments to Antwerp and the suggestion as to an export duty, which raises a large and difficult question of general policy, are matters in the first instance for the India Office and the Government of India.
Mr. G RITTEN
asked the Secretary of State for India whether he is aware that the supply of ferro-manganese ore from India to this country has been seriously affected by the railway policy in India; that there is a shortage of many thousands of wagons on the Bombay, Baroda and Central India Railway and on the 610W Great Indian Peninsular Railway, and that consequently the goods traffic on these railways is in a congested condition, but that, nevertheless, empty wagons, instead of loading manganese ore at Nagpur, go through without stopping; and whether, in view of the basic importance to the steel trade of this country of adequate and regular supplies of this ore, he will make representations to the Railway Board and the railway companies in India?
§ Mr. MONTAGU
I have been in correspondence with the Government of India on this subject for a considerable time, and have asked them to take all possible steps for facilitating the transport of manganese ore to the ports. They have informed mo that there were stocks of 74,374 tons of the ore at Calcutta on the 10th July and of 9,000 tons at Bombay on the 30th July, and that provision has been made for the carriage of 500 tons daily to the latter port.
Mr. G RITTEN
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the United States steel trade and the Japanese steel trade have agencies in India for buying ferro-manganese ore, and that a Mr. Eyben has recently shipped from India 33,650 tons to Antwerp and Dunkirk solely for the use of foreign manufacturers; and what steps he is taking to conserve for British users the supplies of this ore in the British Empire?
§ Mr. MONTAGU
My right hon. Friend has asked me to reply to this question. The answer to the first part is in the affirmative; to the second part, I was not aware of the particular fact stated. As regards the last part, I would refer to the opinion expressed by the Joint Select Committee which considered the Government of India Act (1919), that nothing is more likely to endanger the relations between India and Great Britain than a belief that India's fiscal policy is dictated from Whitehall in the interests of Great Britain For that reason the Committee recommended that the Government of India should have full liberty to devise those tariff arrangements which seem best fitted to India's needs as an integral portion of the British Empire.