Orders of the Day — Nickel (Prohibited Uses)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 4th July 1951.

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Photo of Mr Emrys Hughes Mr Emrys Hughes , South Ayrshire 12:00 am, 4th July 1951

I must confess that I have a certain amount of sympathy with the case put forward by the hon. and gallant Member for Pudsey (Colonel Banks) and by the hon. Member for Leeds, North-West (Mr. Kaberry), but I suggest that the time when their objections should have been made was when the re-armament programme was introduced, because anybody who realised the economic implications of that programme must have realised that this struggle for raw materials by British industry would arise. Here we have what is likely to be the beginning of a long series of complaints from British manufacturers. We find that the key raw materials for important products of the British engineering industry are being gobbled up in the re-armament programme.

As the hon. and gallant Member for Pudsey pointed out, there is the possibility of the stainless steel industry, which depends on its supplies of nickel, having to close down on 1st October. The hon. and gallant Gentleman asked what was going to happen to British industry and to the people employed in these factories. I submit that there is no very definite answer to that question.

If we are going to use the available nickel for the manufacture of jet aircraft and other articles required in the re-armament programme, it cannot be available for the cycle and motor industries, with the inevitable result that those industries will be at a disadvantage when competing with the products of foreign manufacturers whose countries are not so foolish as to handicap the whole future of their industries by having a grandiose rearmament programme. As a result of that position, we shall face an economic crisis.

It is no use hon. Members who supported the re-armament programme and all that it entailed coming along at this late hour and saying that it is going to handicap British industry.