Steel Industry

Oral Answers to Questions — Wales – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 19th March 1973.

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Photo of Mr Roy Hughes Mr Roy Hughes , Newport (Monmouthshire/Gwent) 12:00 am, 19th March 1973

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what further discussions he has had with the British Steel Corporation concerning its investment programme in Wales.

Photo of Mr Peter Thomas Mr Peter Thomas , Hendon South

I continue to have close and regular contact with BSC about the steel industry in Wales.

Photo of Mr Roy Hughes Mr Roy Hughes , Newport (Monmouthshire/Gwent)

Does the Minister agree that the £900 million investment scheme is quite mythical and that the net new investment will be actually less than half that figure? Were not the bulk of the schemes already authorised some years ago? The British Steel Corporation and the Government have together sought to deceive the people of Wales and they have been found out. Is it not time that the Government adopted the policy of open government which we were promised by the Prime Minister at the General Election?

Photo of Mr Peter Thomas Mr Peter Thomas , Hendon South

I disagree with the hon. Member that the figure is mythical. The Government have approved the broad British Steel Corporation strategy and the corporation's assessment is that over a period of 10 years £3,000 million will require to be invested in the British steel industry. It has assessed that the share in Wales over that period will be about £900 million.

Photo of Mr Barry Jones Mr Barry Jones , Flintshire East

Is not the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that for £75 million Shotton could enter the big steelmaking league? Why has he not obtained some of the £900 million for Shotton steelworks? Has he surrendered the interests of Shotton steelworkers?

Photo of Mr Peter Thomas Mr Peter Thomas , Hendon South

I have not surrendered the interests of any steelworkers in Wales. The hon. Member will appreciate that it is not the Government's function to usurp the functions of the British Steel Corporation, which was set up with the support of the Labour Party to run the steel industry. The Government have accepted the broad strategy and have given approval to the amount of money which is involved.

Photo of Mr Neil McBride Mr Neil McBride , Swansea East

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman say whether he has considered the report commissioned by the British Steel Corporation which advocated removal of the export-import trade in steel products from Swansea? Has he further considered the huge additional cost of transportation which would be incurred by the corporation if that happened? Will he look at the terms of the report in view of the social effects, which will be extremely adverse for my constituents?

Photo of Mr Peter Thomas Mr Peter Thomas , Hendon South

I certainly understand that there is concern in the Swansea area about an apprehended decision by the British Steel Corporation. However, I saw in the Western Mail this morning that a British Steel Corporation spokesman had said that it was absolutely untrue that a decision had been taken on this matter.