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Water Schemes (Steel Allocations)

Volume 496: debated on Tuesday 26 February 1952

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29.

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government how many licences for the supply of steel, and for how much steel, have been granted to water authorities for the first quarter of 1952; what he estimates will be the respective figures for the second and third quarters of the year; and how these figures compare with those for 1951.

It is not the practice to disclose allocations for particular purposes.

Is the Minister aware of the very grave concern of water undertakings because in many cases they have received only sufficient steel for the development of new housing estates and nothing at all for repairs and maintenance? Will he reconsider the question because many water undertakings are faced with a very serious position in regard to the repair of their undertakings?

Can the right hon. Gentleman state the principle on which the applications are being met? Is priority being given to those areas which at present have no piped water supply?

I was asked to give allocations in certain instances. That has never been done by this or any other Government when there has been an allocation system. The purpose of an allocation system is to operate without the rigid priorities which led to so much trouble in the early stages of the war and to make the allocations for definite separate purposes and then to divide them up as best possible in the circumstances.

Is the right hon. Gentleman now abandoning his party's pledges to the rural areas about water supplies?

Is it not a fact that no licences have been issued for this purpose in the first quarter? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the very serious situation which is now arising in a constituency which he once represented because no licences have been granted to the Tees Valley Water Board?

30.

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that many large schemes for the supply of water to power stations, coalmines and other vital industrial undertakings, are held up for relatively small quantities of steel; and if he will take steps to increase the supply of steel to water undertakers.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the demand of the water undertakers for steel for the whole of the year is only 50,000 tons, one-third of 1 per cent. of our total supplies? Is it not well known in all parts of the House that these great undertakings are now seriously endangered and delayed?

Of course they are most vitally important and I will do everything possible within the allocation system to obtain what is necessary; but one of the reasons for the allocation system was that, although everyone's application was fairly small, the total required amounted to rather more than the total amount of steel available.

Will the right hon. Gentleman mobilise his courage and demand his rightful amount from the Cabinet?

Surely the right hon. Gentleman is wrong in saying that it has never been the practice to disclose how much steel is allocated for a certain purpose? Although it has not been the practice to disclose the amount of an individual licence, have there not been a number of White Papers giving the global allocations?

The hon. Member is incorrect and, anyway, that relates to the Question which we have just passed.

On a point of order. I was about to ask a supplementary question about steel and rural water supplies when the question was interrupted, Mr. Speaker, by your calling the next Question. In those circumstances, is it in order to put the supplementary question after the next Question, as has just been done?

It is frequently my duty to interrupt the asking of a supplementary question by calling the next Question. Mr. Nabarro.