HC Deb 15 March 1939 vol 345 cc422-3W
Mr. Edwards

asked the President of the Board of Trade what price is charged by British steel manufacturers to shipbuilders in this country and comparative prices charged to foreign shipbuilders?

Mr. Cross

The current net price for plates to shipbuilders in this country is £9 15s. 6d. per ton. I am informed that, in general, higher prices are charged by the British steelmakers to shipbuilders in foreign countries.

Sir R. Aske

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that manufacturers of auxiliary ship's machinery in this country are being seriously prejudiced in obtaining orders agaist foreign competition by reason of the high price now being charged for steel; and that the price of steel bars has risen from £8 15s. per ton to £14 5s.; whether this is due, wholly or in part, to the existence of a ring of steel manufacturers in this country; how prices, in this country, of steel compare with the American export price; and whether any, and what, steps are proposed to be taken to prevent this prejudice to machinery manufacturers?

Mr. Cross

Apart from a case to which my hon. and learned Friend has drawn his attention, my right hon. Friend has received no complaints regarding the effect of the price of steel upon the competitive position of manufacturers of ships' auxiliary machinery. The price of steel bars varies according to quality. The present price of Siemens Martin acid steel bars (0.25 carbon) is £14 4s. per ton, subject to a loyalty rebate of 15s. per ton, giving a net price of £13 9s. per ton, which compares with a net price of £10 10s. per ton in 1933. My right hon. Friend has no information as to the American export price of these bars. The net price of ordinary mild steel bars is £10 17s. per ton, which compares with a net price of £8 per ton in 1933. He is informed that the c.i.f. price of similar bars of American origin is about £11 5s. per ton. As my hon. and learned Friend will be aware, changes in the prices of the principal iron and steel products are made only after consultation with the Import Duties Advisory Committee.