asked the President of the Board of Trade when he expects to place before the House his proposals for preventing any further decline in the activities of the iron and steel trade in this country and the resultant increase in unemployment?
I think the hon. and gallant Member is aware that I have more than once promised to make a statement on the subject of this and other industries on the occasion of the Board of Trade Vote.
Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that all the recommendations which have been made to him from different quarters involve legislation; and how can we discuss those matters on an administrative Vote?
We are just as anxious as the right hon. Gentlemen to have a debate on the subject. Will he give an undertaking that it shall be debated on an occasion when the whole issue can be properly treated?
If, by "the whole issue," the right hon. Gentleman means the tariff issue, which is an important matter in connection with this trade, that, of course, could not be discussed upon a Board of Trade or any other Vote in this House. That, however, does not lie with me; it is a question of the Rules of the House.
If we are to have a discussion upon the recommendations and policy with regard to iron and steel, does not the right hon. Gentleman recognise that it is quite ineffective to have one while excluding the question of tariffs; and will he represent to the Prime Minister that, in order to get an effective discussion such as he and we require, we must have a day when the whole subject can be properly debated?
Arising out of the original answer, may I ask whether, in view of the serious condition of this industry and of other industries, the Government cannot expedite the occasion when they will make some statement to this House on a plan to deal with this problem, so that the Government may have the authority of the House to proceed energetically with it?
The plans, apart from legislation, I can summarise on the occasion of the Board of Trade Vote, and hon. Members on the other side can put that down almost immediately; it does not lie with us.
As reported by the National Federation of Iron and Steel Manufacturers the numbers of furnaces in blast at the end of May, 1929, 1930, and 1931 were 159, 141, and 80, respectively.