Steel Industry (Scotland)

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

Alert me about debates like this

Mr. Edward Taylor:

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the steel industry in Scotland.

Photo of Mr Thomas Boardman Mr Thomas Boardman , Leicester South West

No, Sir. The British Steel Corporation's strategy for development in Scotland was explained in the White Paper, Cmnd. 5226.

Mr. Taylor:

Does my hon. Friend agree that, as the document forecasts a series of closures and redundancies in the Scottish steel industry, it is scandalous that the British Steel Corporation should have turned away to Japanese industry very substantial orders for undersea and overland pipes, which were offered to it, because it simply could not deliver? As the industry is facing contraction, does not my hon. Friend agree that there should be a thorough inquiry into what went wrong with these orders, because it has been clear for a long time that substantial orders for North Sea oil tubes would be available?

Photo of Mr Thomas Boardman Mr Thomas Boardman , Leicester South West

My hon. Friend will agree that that is probably a different point, but very careful inquiries have been made into why the orders for the pipes had to be placed with Japan. It is due partly to technical problems, which have now been overcome, and partly to labour problems in certain areas.

Photo of Mr David Lambie Mr David Lambie , Central Ayrshire

In view of the recently published report of the Hunterston Development Company and the renewed interest being shown by the private sector in developments at Hunterston, is the Minister prepared to reconsider changing Government policy and recommending an immediate go-ahead with the green field steel site at Hunterston?

Photo of Mr Thomas Boardman Mr Thomas Boardman , Leicester South West

The strategy for the selection of the site for the major steel complex at Hunterston was clearly spelt out in the White Paper and has been debated on a number of occasions in the House. I remind the hon. Gentleman that one of the proposals contained in the White Paper referred to the possibility of a direct reduction plant being sited at Hunterston for producing a pelletised iron to support an electric arc furnace.

Photo of Mr Trevor Skeet Mr Trevor Skeet , Bedford

Will my hon. Friend elaborate on his statement about the direct reduction plant? Is he negotiating with Willie Korf of West Germany for the development of such a process? Is it possible that a mini-mill will be established there with German capital?

Photo of Mr Thomas Boardman Mr Thomas Boardman , Leicester South West

I would remind my hon. Friend that the type of plant and negotiations of this sort are matters for the British Steel Corporation.

Photo of Mr Tony Benn Mr Tony Benn , Bristol South East

Can the Minister tell the House when the statement will be made about the rise in steel prices, now anticipated at between 10 per cent. and 15 per cent., which, combined with the move over to the European basing point system price, is bound to have an effect on the steel industry in Scotland as well as everywhere else?

Photo of Mr Thomas Boardman Mr Thomas Boardman , Leicester South West

I cannot tell the right hon. Gentleman the date, but I recognise the need for a statement to be made as soon as this is possible.