West Wales Steel Development Committee

Oral Answers to Questions — Wales – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 1st November 1976.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Nicholas Edwards Mr Nicholas Edwards , Pembroke 12:00 am, 1st November 1976

asked the Secretary of State for Wales when he last met the West Wales Steel Development Committee.

Photo of Sir John Morris Sir John Morris Secretary of State for Wales

The committee has not sought a meeting, but I have close and regular contact with many of the bodies represented on it.

Photo of Mr Nicholas Edwards Mr Nicholas Edwards , Pembroke

Does the Secretary of State agree with West Glamorgan County Council that the consents given by the Government in July fall far short of the British Steel Corporation's strategy and the case advanced by the West Wales Steel Development Committee that West Wales faces further massive job losses and any further delay will put in jeopardy the chances of the area competing in steel products in United Kingdom and world markets?

Photo of Sir John Morris Sir John Morris Secretary of State for Wales

I am deeply aware of the concern in West Glamorgan, and I am in close personal touch with the leaders of the steel industry in that part of the world. I spoke to them only last Friday. The hon. Gentleman referred to delays, but the Government have made a firm offer to the industry amounting to the expenditure of £350 million, which is nearly 30 times more than the proposed cut in increased Government expenditure on the Welsh Office Vote. If there is any question of losing time, I hope that the steel industry will take up the whole of that offer as soon as possible. I regret that it has not done so.

Photo of Mr Nicholas Edwards Mr Nicholas Edwards , Pembroke

Is it not true that the money in question does not add to steelmaking capacity and that that is the central point that people are pressing on the Government?

Photo of Sir John Morris Sir John Morris Secretary of State for Wales

The hon. Gentleman should familiarise himself with the problem and perhaps discuss it with his hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West (Sir A. Meyer). The offer we have made is that the industry can invest in expenditure of £350 million on coke ovens, continuous casting work and a hot strip mill. That offer does not prejudice the reappraisal that the Government have asked the BSC to make of the needs of Shotton and development at Port Talbot. No one is more passionately concerned than I to ensure that we have a viable steel industry in this country, in particular in my constituency. Against that background we have given the go-ahead for the necessary investment at Port Talbot, and I hope that the BSC will take it up.