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Us Ore (Uk Purchases)

Volume 497: debated on Monday 10 March 1952

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asked the Minister of Supply whether he will give particulars of the 750,000 tons of iron ore to be made available by the United States steel industry to the United Kingdom, according to the agreement between the Governments of the two countries, set out in Command Paper No. 8464.

Whilst a considerable proportion of the purchases has now been made, negotiations by the United Kingdom steel industry are in progress for the rest, and they would be prejudiced if detailed particulars were given at the present time.

I am obliged to the Minister, but I do not think that I am clear, or that anyone else is clear, as to what is meant by the 750,000 tons of ore to be made available. Does that mean that ore which had already been bought by America is being relinquished by them to us, that they are reducing their intended purchases this year by 750,000 tons, or are they selling us the ore? What exactly does it mean?

It means that purchases which they had intended to make they are no longer going to make. They informed us what those purchases were to be, so that we might have the opportunity of making those purchases. It does not follow that we shall necessarily be able to obtain all of them in full, but we are doing our best.

Does that mean that the total purchases by America of ore from Sweden and elsewhere, including Africa, this year, will be 750,000 tons fewer than last year?