Is the Prime Minister aware that the Commonwealth Secretary said that the steel industry was responsible without doubt for the balance of payments crises of 1955 and 1961? Is he aware that the steel industry has consistently earned a large profit on foreign exchange? Indeed, in 1961 it earned £76 million. [HON. MEMBERS: "Speech."] Will the right hon. Gentleman therefore withdraw both the Steel Bill and the Commonwealth Secretary?
I think that probably my right hon. Friend had in mind the balance of payments crisis of 1957, rather than 1955. This may have been an error. I think that on a number of occasions the House has been given figures of the enormous imports of sheet steel in 1957 and 1961, which played a very large part in the worsening of our balance of trade at that time.
Is the Prime Minister aware that the profit during the last four years has been £250 million, without picking out one year from another? Would the right hon. Gentleman now care to remind us of the import-export position of steel in 1951, when it was nationalised and when we had a Socialist Government and the worst balance of payments crisis in our history?
It seems that we cannot cure hon. Members opposite from dining out on 1951. The House may recall that I gave the figures in the House in the censure debate when I pointed out that the balance of payments situation in October, 1964, was worse than that in 1951, despite the fact that in 1951 there was a 30 per cent. increase in world prices due to Korea.