Iron and Steel Industry.

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Commerce. – in the House of Commons on 23rd June 1931.

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Photo of Mr Lionel Beaumont-Thomas Mr Lionel Beaumont-Thomas , Birmingham King's Norton

11.

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?

Photo of Mr William Graham Mr William Graham , Edinburgh Central

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.

Photo of Mr Philip Lloyd-Greame Mr Philip Lloyd-Greame , Hendon

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?

Photo of Mr William Graham Mr William Graham , Edinburgh Central

That is very far from being the case; many of the proposals do not involve legislation at all.

Photo of Mr Philip Lloyd-Greame Mr Philip Lloyd-Greame , Hendon

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?

Photo of Mr William Graham Mr William Graham , Edinburgh Central

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.

Photo of Mr Philip Lloyd-Greame Mr Philip Lloyd-Greame , Hendon

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?

Photo of Mr William Graham Mr William Graham , Edinburgh Central

I have no power to promise any Parliamentary time at all for this subject other than the time available within the limits of the Board of Trade Vote.

Photo of Mr Fenner Brockway Mr Fenner Brockway , Leyton East

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?

Photo of Mr William Graham Mr William Graham , Edinburgh Central

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.

Photo of Mr Lionel Beaumont-Thomas Mr Lionel Beaumont-Thomas , Birmingham King's Norton

Are we to under-stand that the proposals of the trade union concerned have been turned down by the Government?

Photo of Mr William Graham Mr William Graham , Edinburgh Central

The hon. and gallant Member would be wrong in making that assumption.

Photo of Mr Neville Smith-Carington Mr Neville Smith-Carington , Rutland and Stamford

16.

asked the President of the Board of Trade how many blast furnaces were in operation in May, 1929, 1930, and 1931, respectively?

Photo of Mr William Graham Mr William Graham , Edinburgh Central

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.

Photo of Mr John Colville Mr John Colville , Midlothian and Peeblesshire Northern

Does not that indicate that it would be wise for the Government to give a day for the discussion of the iron and steel industry?