HC Deb 26 May 1952 vol 501 cc105-6W
92. Mr. Teeling

asked the Minister of Supply why the recent purchase of steel amounting to 150,000 tons from Japan for this country was handled by an American merchant house, shipped by an American shipping agency, and largely financed by an American Bank, when, in each case, there were several British concerns in Japan ready to quote who had asked his Department to be allowed so to do; why they were not; and why they were given erroneous information on this subject officially both in London and Tokyo.

93. Mr. Teeling

asked the Minister of Supply what steps he takes with regard to those purchases from abroad in which his Department are interested to make sure that there is no unnecessary dollar expenditure, and that British firms in the country of purchase are employed, and not American firms; why Sir William Reardon Smith and Company, whose agents are American, and Messrs. Barnett and Company, whose representative in Japan is an American firm, were the only firms used in the recent purchase of Japanese steel; and why no tenders were invited from British firms with British representatives in Japan in spite of the protests of the British Chamber of Commerce in Tokyo.

Mr. Sandys

The purchases referred to were made by the British Iron and Steel Corporation, Limited on their own account. The choice of banks, merchant houses and shipping agents is left to the importing organisation concerned, and it is not the practice for the Government to intervene in these commercial arrangements. I am not aware that any official information on this subject has been given by any Government authority in London or Tokyo.

Dollar purchases are approved only when essential supplies cannot be obtained from other sources and when the consent of the Treasury has been obtained. The transfer of foreign currency must be done in accordance with the Exchange Control Act.