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Steel Company Shares (Sale)

Volume 527: debated on Tuesday 4 May 1954

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17.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many steel firms have been returned to private shareholders; and how many remain to be disposed of by the Agency.

The Agency have to date completed negotiations for the sale to private shareholders of securities in eight companies, and still retain direct interest in the equity capital of 62 companies.

Can the right hon. Gentle man tell us how much time the Agency has at its disposal in which to return all these firms to private enterprise? Can he say, in particular, how much longer it will be before the English Steel Corporation and Guest, Keen and Nettlefold are returned to private enterprise?

I am sure the hon. Lady will agree that it would be most undesirable in the public interest to speculate about the disposal of particular companies. On the general issue, the hon. Lady may remember that during the debates on the Steel Bill her right hon. and hon. Friends were anxious that we should not rush the matter in order to accelerate sales, thereby not getting adequate prices. I should have thought she ought to be grateful for the way in which the Iron and Steel Agency and my right hon. Friend are conducting this matter.

In view of the obvious failure of the Government's plans to denationalise the steel industry, would it not now be wiser to reconsider the whole matter and repeal the Act?

As that question is founded on a false hypothesis, its conclusion is inevitably even falser.