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Refractory Industry

Oral Answers to Questions — Industry – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 5th April 1976.

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Photo of Dennis Canavan Dennis Canavan , Stirlingshire West 12:00 am, 5th April 1976

asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he will take steps to assist the refractory industry.

Photo of Mr Neil Carmichael Mr Neil Carmichael , Glasgow Kelvingrove

No, Sir. My Department maintains a close interest in this vital industry, but there is no indication that special assistance is required at this time.

Photo of Dennis Canavan Dennis Canavan , Stirlingshire West

Is my hon. Friend aware that the shortage of refractory orders, due to the present recession in the steel industry, is causing redundancies and the temporary closure of various brickworks, including one in Allandale, in my constituency? Will he make appropriate representations to the British Steel Corporation and also urge the Chancellor of the Exchequer to introduce some reflationary measures as soon as possible to help the employment prospects of workers in the refractory and other industries?

Photo of Mr Neil Carmichael Mr Neil Carmichael , Glasgow Kelvingrove

There is a scheme for the acceleration of investment in certain plants, but the refractory industry is a modern industry without bottlenecks. It is not therefore likely to need modernisation or accelerated investment. The Government are continually in contact with industries such as steel, glass and ceramics, to see whether there is any way of accelerating their investment programmes, which would, of course, greatly assist industries like the refractory industry.

Photo of Mr Frank Hooley Mr Frank Hooley , Sheffield, Heeley

Will my hon. Friend encourage the British Steel Corporation to buy British, instead of Japanese, refractors, especially as the British products are available and are of equally good quality?

Photo of Mr Neil Carmichael Mr Neil Carmichael , Glasgow Kelvingrove

This is a subject on which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade is having many discussions with industry. Wherever possible, industry should buy British goods, but there is such a thing as industries maintaining their economic viability, and their pursuit of this objective requires them to buy in the cheapest world market.

Photo of Mrs Margaret Bain Mrs Margaret Bain , Dunbartonshire East

Does not any failure to assist the refractory industry appear all the more ridiculous in view of the high levels of unemployment in the construction industry, particularly in the West of Scotland, where there is a great need for environmental improvement?

Photo of Mr Neil Carmichael Mr Neil Carmichael , Glasgow Kelvingrove

My Department has very close links with the refractory industry and has received no requests for assistance from it. I am sure that we would have received requests if assistance were necessary. This is not one of the industries with bottlenecks, and as soon as other industries, such as glass and steel, pick up it will immediately be able to supply their needs.

Photo of Mr Eric Heffer Mr Eric Heffer , Liverpool, Walton

Is not the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mrs. Bain) right when she says that because of the high level of unemployment in construction, the refractory industry is badly under-employed? Should not my hon. Friend tell the Chancellor of the Exchequer before tomorrow that more assistance must be given to the construction industries?

Photo of Mr Neil Carmichael Mr Neil Carmichael , Glasgow Kelvingrove

This is something of which the Chancellor of the Exchequer will obviously be well aware. The refractory industry is a rather specialised section of the brickmaking industry. I know the firm to which my hon. Friend the Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Canavan) referred. It is a high quality firm, with a good export potential. This export potential is one of the reasons why the industry has been cushioned, to some extent, from the immediate home problems of the using industries.