§ Sir E. Boyle
asked the Minister of Materials whether, in view of the Government's decision to allow the reversion of copper to private trade, he will give an indication of the prospects of a similar reversion in the case of aluminium.
§ Sir A. Salter
The Government have decided to restore private trading in aluminium from 1st July; the Control of Aluminium Order will be revoked; and the licensing arrangements for the private import of aluminium will be announced shortly by the Board of Trade. There has been close consultation with the consumers through the Aluminium Industry Council.
Our main source of aluminium is the Aluminum Company of Canada, which 117W has been supplying some four-fifths of our needs in recent years. Agreements between the Company and the U.K. Government in 1950 and 1951 secured us substantial supplies for the next 20 years, by firm contract until the end of 1955 and by yearly options to the U.K. Government thereafter. The substantial benefit to this country of these arrangements will be retained under private trading.
The metal will be offered to the industry instead of to the Ministry of Materials, the Ministry retaining the obligation until the contracts expire at the end of 1955, to take up such part, if any, of the contract quantities as is not bought by industry. We have, however, been able without undue risk to agree with the company to reduce these contract quantities somewhat and thereby to assist the company to meet the needs of other customers. At the same time we have obtained from 1st July a reduction in the contract price of ¾ cents a lb., or approximately £6 a ton, the benefit of which will be enjoyed by industry here as the company have undertaken not to charge more than the Ministry would have charged. In order that, under private trading, the options after 1955 may be effectively operated, the Ministry have accepted an obligation for the following five years to buy up to 20,000 tons a year of unsold metal within the option quantities.
In order to assist the company to take over from the Ministry the financing of the trade in this country in Canadian aluminium during the period covered by the above-mentioned contracts, the Ministry will transfer to the company the trading stocks necessary under current conditions, amounting in value to about £5 million, on terms which permit them, subject to the payment of interest, to defer payment until the end of 1955.
I should like to take this opportunity of acknowledging all the help which we have had from the Aluminum Company of Canada in making these arrangements and during the past 13 years of public trading, and the spirit of co-operation which has always characterised their relations with us.