HC Deb 09 February 1977 vol 925 cc684-5W
Mr. Skeet

asked the Secretary of State for Industry (1) what estimate he has made of the world capacity in the production and supply of heavy steel pipe required for major pipeline works in submarine runs; whether the Government have agreed to supply the British Steel Corporation with finance for this purpose, and guarantee the corporation in whole or in part against any losses sustained by the projected investment at Hartlepool; and whether any representations have been made to him concerning the consistency of such a development with United Kingdom obligations as a member of the European Coal and Steel Community;

(2) what percentage of the United Kingdom's total requirements of North Sea steel pipe he estimates the British Steel Corporation will be in a position to supply a reasonable time after the commissioning of their new plant at Hartlepool;

(3) whether the National Enterprise Board has been involved in the decision of the British Steel Corporation to manufacture steel pipe of the size and specification suitable for North Sea pipelining; and whether he is prepared to make capital funds available for the formation of a joint subsidiary for this purpose and for promoting export with any of the leading companies in the EEC engaged in this field;

(4) whether he has agreed the British Steel Corporation's proposed investment in the manufacture of steel pipe of the size and specification required for the North Sea; and why the decision has been delayed;

(5) whether he has given the British Steel Corporation a specific direction in the matter of the projected manufacture of steel pipes of the size and specification required for North Sea capital works.

Mr. Les Huckfield

After consultation with prospective customers and the work force, the British Steel Corporation has decided to invest in enhancement of the Hartlepool Pipe Mill in order to supply heavy steel pipe to the North Sea market. The commercial viability and timing of the investment are matters for the Corporation; the cost will be met from within agreed levels of capital expenditure. My right hon. Friend's consent has not been sought for the formation of a subsidiary company. Nor has the National Enterprise Board been involved. I have received no representations concerning this project in relation to the United Kingdom's obligation as a member of the European Coal and Steel Community.