HC Deb 01 December 1969 vol 792 cc181-2W
15. Mr. Hastings

asked the Minister of Technology whether he will make a statement on current supplies of nickel to British industry.

Mr. Benn

I am glad to say that there has been a welcome improvement in the supply prospects for nickel. The industrial disputes at the installations of the principal suppliers in Canada have been settled and their nickel mining and processing operations have been resumed. We can now expect a progressive increase of supplies to this country, beginning in the course of this month and building up to pre-strike levels over the next four to five months. However, the refinery at Clydach in the United Kingdom is still not operating, because of an industrial dispute. We hope that this will be settled soon.

74. Mr. Atkinson

asked the Minister of Technology if he is aware that the plating industry is having to pay eight or more times the official price for nickel due to the shortage of supply; and if he will arrange for the release of Government stocks to the plating industry.

Mr. Benn

The shortage of nickel has affected all users, and the plating industry has not been alone in having to resort to purchases of more expensive "free market" nickel. I am not persuaded that there is a case for making releases to this industry from the defence stockpile, which is small and must be carefully husbanded.

Mr. Wiggin

asked the Minister of Technology if he will make a further statement on the availability of nickel supplies in this country.

Mr. Benn

I would refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to a similar Question today.