Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Industry – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 5th June 1991.

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Photo of Mr Richard Holt Mr Richard Holt , Langbaurgh 12:00 am, 5th June 1991

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much potash by weight or value, at 1990 prices, was imported and exported by this country in each of the past 10 years.

Photo of Hon. Tim Sainsbury Hon. Tim Sainsbury , Hove

The United Kingdom has had a deficit in trade in potash in each of the last 10 years, but the clear trend has been for a reduction in that deficit over the decade. I will arrange for the full information requested to be published in the Official Report.

Photo of Mr Richard Holt Mr Richard Holt , Langbaurgh

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that reply. Would not that deficit be made much worse if the only potash mine in Britain, which is in my constituency, were to be closed? Is it not the Government's responsibility to ensure that jobs are maintained by seeking to keep open prosperous businesses? Have not the chances of that mine being kept open been severely weakened by the Secretary of State's crass decision not to allow the Kemira deal with ICI which would have enhanced the job prospects of my constituents and kept open the only potash mine in Britain?

Photo of Hon. Tim Sainsbury Hon. Tim Sainsbury , Hove

As I am sure my hon. Friend knows, no Secretary of State has overruled the recommendation of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission. My hon. Friend has described the company as successful; I

Table 1
United Kingdom trade in potassium chloride, 1981–19901
'000 tonnes£'000s
Volume exportsImportsBalanceValue exportsImportsBalance
Table 2
United Kingdom trade in potassium salts, 1981–19902
'000 tonnes£'000s
Volume exportsImportsBalanceValue exportsImportsBalance
1 Covers section 562·31 of the Standard International Trade Classification (SITC).
2 Covers sections 272·4, 522·64, 523·52, 523·74, 562·32 and 562·39 of the SITC.
3 Denotes that the figures are not available, since publication could be disclosive of commercially sensitive information.

Source: British Geological Survey.

congratulate it on its success, and, indeed, on its export achievements. The most effective way of keeping companies going are not Government intervention, subsidies and handouts, but efficient production by efficient companies and successful exporting.

Photo of Tommy Graham Tommy Graham , Renfrew West and Inverclyde

Do the Minister and the hon. Member for Langbaurgh (Mr. Holt) realise on what the import of potash, and the success of that company, depend? In my constituency, many people work for Kvaerner Kincaed which produces marine ship engines. The company importing potash cannot have an engine built by any other British company, because Kvaerner Kincaed is the last company in Britain that produces such engines. Why are the Government standing idly by while my hon. Friend the Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow (Dr. Godman) is in Europe fighting his corner to keep the marine engine industry alive?

Photo of Hon. Tim Sainsbury Hon. Tim Sainsbury , Hove

I must congratulate the hon. Gentleman on the ingenuity with which he has linked the subject of marine engines with that of potash. I am happy to say that, because of the success of the company in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Langbaurgh (Mr. Holt), marine engines often carry British exports of potash abroad, as well as bringing potash imports into this country.

The following is the information:

United Kingdom trade in "potash" (ie potassium salts) is predominantly in potassium chloride. Trade in this product is shown in table 1. Trade in other potassium salts is shown in table 2.

Values at constant prices are not available. Current price figures have been given in their place.