HC Deb 20 February 1922 vol 150 cc1540-1W

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that a contract was entered into during the War with the Australian Government to purchase the whole of the zinc concentrates produced in that country up to 1930; is he aware of the disastrous effect this has had on the industry in this country; is he aware that £500,000 was advanced for the erection of zinc smelt- ing works in Australia; what security does the Government hold for this advance and what interest is being paid; whether he is prepared to recommend the Government to render some assistance to the home industry, which will enable those mines to reopen which have already had to close as a consequence of the Australian contract, and thus find employment for a large number of men; and whether he will issue a memorandum giving a full explanation of the whole position for the information of the House?


asked the Prime Minister if he is aware that an agreement has been entered into by the Government for the purchase of large quantities of Australian zinc concentrates annually for a period of 10 years after the conclusion of the War; that these concentrates are being sold to smelters at a heavy loss; that the lowness of the price charged by the Government has made it impossible for British mines to compete; that these mines have been compelled to close down, thereby throwing thousands of men out of employment; and whether he will order an inquiry into the circumstances under which the contract was made?


As I informed the right hon. Member for South Molten (Mr. Lambert) on 13th February, I propose shortly on a Supplementary Estimate to make a full statement upon this subject. I think, however, that I must say at once that no advance whatever has been made by His Majesty's Government for the erection of zinc smelting works in Australia.