Iron Ore Plant, Newport

Oral Answers to Questions — Ministry of Power – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 28th November 1960.

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Photo of Mr Neil Marten Mr Neil Marten , Banbury 12:00 am, 28th November 1960

asked the Minister of Power how much money has been spent by Messrs. Richard Thomas and Baldwin on capital development at Newport for the specific purpose of receiving and handling Oxfordshire iron ore.

Photo of Hon. Richard Wood Hon. Richard Wood , Bridlington

I understand the company has spent about £250,000 and is committed to spend a further £1,350,000 for this purpose, but I am told the plant can, if necessary, handle ore from other sources.

Photo of Mr Neil Marten Mr Neil Marten , Banbury

Can my right hon. Friend say why this expenditure was authorised before the result of this inquiry was announced? Does he not think that possibly Richard Thomas and Baldwin were trying to influence the result of the inquiry?

Photo of Hon. Richard Wood Hon. Richard Wood , Bridlington

I should like to make it perfectly clear, if it is suggested that this expenditure was incurred in order to blackmail the Minister of Housing and Local Government, that anyone who knows my right hon. Friend would think that was ineffective; but the company was in the position that it had to make plans in order to be in time to receive ore, and, as I have told my hon. Friend, I am informed by the company, having made inquiries about this, that if the decision were to go against it, there would have been incurred very little nugatory expenditure.

Photo of Mr Marcus Kimball Mr Marcus Kimball , Gainsborough

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many people feel that, provided the price of imported foreign ore is kept within reasonable bounds by the supplying companies, there is very little justification for further exploitation of the opencast iron ore mining in the Midlands in this country, and that those valuable seams should be kept as a strategic reserve?

Photo of Hon. Richard Wood Hon. Richard Wood , Bridlington

This is a matter for the inquiry, and my hon. Friend will not expect me to pronounce upon it today.

Photo of Sir Barnett Stross Sir Barnett Stross , Stoke-on-Trent Central

I wonder if the right hon. Gentleman has noted that if this scheme were carried out to the full the ground in this area, a very beautiful area, would be let down about 8 ft. overall and that it would mean the destruction of trees and the flattening out of natural hills. Is it really worth it? Is not the hon. Gentleman the Member for Gains-borough (Mr. Kimball) quite right in suggesting that we should be better served if we built large carriers to bring the ore in from abroad and kept ours as a reserve?

Photo of Hon. Richard Wood Hon. Richard Wood , Bridlington

I think that there was a certain amount of discussion of this point at the inquiry.

Mr. Lee:

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us what would be the effect on the balance of payments if indeed we were to discard home-produced ore in favour of imported ore?

Photo of Hon. Richard Wood Hon. Richard Wood , Bridlington

I could not give that information without notice, I am afraid.