Paper and Board Industry

Oral Answers to Questions — Industry – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 14th March 1983.

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Photo of Mr Doug Hoyle Mr Doug Hoyle , Warrington 12:00 am, 14th March 1983

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will take steps to assist the paper and board industry to become more competitive by help with restructuring and re-equipment.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , St Marylebone

Companies in the paper and board industry, like other industries, can already benefit from a wide range of industrial support measures to improve their competitiveness.

Photo of Mr Doug Hoyle Mr Doug Hoyle , Warrington

Does the Minister agree that it makes more sense, is cheaper and more efficient to save rather than to create new jobs in the paper and board industry? If so, will he consider putting between £5 million and £10 million into Thames Board Mills, Warrington, to prevent it from closing, and thus save between 800 and 1,000 jobs?

Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , St Marylebone

I have met the hon. Gentleman and the hon. Member for Newton (Mr. Evans), as well as the chairman of Thames Board Mills, to consider the problems facing that plant. The company has told me that it has examined the possibility of keeping the mill open, but unfortunately it cannot foresee a viable future for it.

Photo of Mr Roger Moate Mr Roger Moate , Faversham

Does my hon. Friend agree that, given the increased use of indigenous raw materials, energy resources and new technology, there is no reason why the British paper industry should not continue to flourish and play a major role in the economy? Does my hon. Friend further agree that to achieve that we must ensure a flexible use of the Industry Act for worthwhile projects?

Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , St Marylebone

We provide support for various projects in the paper and board industry. There has been a freeze in the average level of electricity prices for 1983–84. Of course, new investment is being made all the time. There is a big investment of £100 million in Workington and about £40 million or £50 million has been invested in Ellesmere Port by Consolidated Bathurst.

Photo of Mr Dale Campbell-Savours Mr Dale Campbell-Savours , Workington

Does cheaper energy in Europe damage the interests of British producers?

Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , St Marylebone

That is a very wide question. The disadvantage that high energy users have borne in this country has been to some extent reduced, although not entirely eliminated, by the adjustment in the value of sterling.