asked the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence whether his attention has been drawn to the imposition of a 33⅓ per cent. duty on pig iron by the Import Duties Advisory Committee; what effect this duty on a semiraw material so largely required for munitions is likely to have on prices and supplies for his Department; and how will existing contracts be affected?
My attention has been drawn to this duty. I do not myself place orders for munitions, but I am advised by the Departments directly concerned that the duty will have no effect on home prices, and that it is not expected to have any adverse effect on supplies or on existing contractual arrangements.
Is the right hon. Gentleman quite certain that it is wise to restrict pig iron coming into this country, and thereby to make it more available to competing countries?
That is hardly a question to be addressed to me. I am answering a question as to the effect of this duty upon supplies for Defence purposes, but there has been a considerable demand from many quarters for this duty, of which probably the hon. Member is aware.
Can my right hon. Friend conceive of anything which is more liable to upset the ultimate success of the rearmament programme than the damping down of blast furnaces in this country because of imports of foreign materials?