Commissioner Davignon

Oral Answers to Questions — Oral Answers to Questions – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12th November 1979.

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Photo of Mr Michael Brown Mr Michael Brown , Brigg and Scunthorpe 12:00 am, 12th November 1979

asked the Secretary of State for Industry when he intends to meet EEC Commissioner Davignon.

Photo of Mr Michael Marshall Mr Michael Marshall , Arundel

My right hon. Friend met Commissioner Davignon on 21 June this year, and is ready to meet him again when there are matters of mutual interest to discuss.

Photo of Mr Michael Brown Mr Michael Brown , Brigg and Scunthorpe

Does my hon. Friend agree that there is a matter of mutual interest to discuss when my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State next meets the Commissioner with regard to the continuing problem of the coking coal subsidy for Germany's steel industry which results not only in imports of steel—some of us say unfairly—but also of finished products, such as motor cars?

Photo of Mr Michael Marshall Mr Michael Marshall , Arundel

This is a matter which it may be suitable to discuss, but my hon. Friend will recognise that we are speaking here about subsidies to the coal industry, not to the steel industry. He may wish to follow his interest in the matter, which I know he mentioned to the House earlier last month, by putting a question to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy.

Photo of Mr John Osborn Mr John Osborn , Sheffield, Hallam

Will my hon. Friend be able to convince Commissioner Davignon that there is no unfair competition from the British Steel Corporation, especially from its refractories division, in order to alleviate the dumping of special steel in the private sector, which affects Sheffield?

Photo of Mr Michael Marshall Mr Michael Marshall , Arundel

Again, these are matters which it is appropriate to discuss with Commissioner Davignon. However, I think that they have to be looked at in the wider context of steel aids. I believe that on 23 October the House gave helpful support to the Government's approach.

Photo of Mr Robert Brown Mr Robert Brown , Newcastle upon Tyne West

Does the Minister agree that it would be a far more practicable proposition, following the question put by the hon. Member for Brigg and Scunthorpe (Mr. Brown), to give subsidies to the industry, to prevent the import of coking coal?

Photo of Mr Michael Marshall Mr Michael Marshall , Arundel

The Government's view is that this is a matter for BSC. We do not think that we should intervene where the Corporation feels that it is in its best interests to import coal. As the hon. Gentleman will be aware, negotiations are proceeding between BSC and the National Coal Board, and I would not wish to say anything that would make those negotiations more difficult.