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Steel Industry

Volume 827: debated on Monday 29 November 1971

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asked the Secretary of State for Wales what recent dis- cussion he has had with the British Steel Corporation concerning the future operations of the steel industry in Wales.

I am in close touch with developments and I will be personally meeting the Deputy Chairman later this week.

Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman appreciate that there is considerable uncertainty and low morale amongst steel workers in Wales at present? Will he appreciate that the industry has not been helped by the hullaballoo over hiving-off operations and the Government's intentions concerning price increases and about holding up investment plans? Will he prevail upon the British Steel Corporation to discourage rumours prevalent at present of investment by the corporation in a green-field site on the Continent, when we have available green-field sites in South Wales?

As the hon. Gentleman knows, the Joint Steering Group is at present engaged on part two of the review—that is, the financial and economic implications of B.S.C.'s long-term development; and when the group's report is made, many of the anxieties that the hon. Gentlement has mentioned will be allayed.

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that there is a great deal of anxiety in the Wrexham constituency about the Brymbo steelworks and the continuance of that works in the orbit of the British Steel Corporation? Will he ask his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to decide once and for all whether the works should stay in the B.S.C.? Has the fall-off in production, when the works are already well below operating capacity, anything to do with the fact that the proposed buyer is a major customer?

I am aware of the importance of the steelworks to the part of Wales to which the hon. Gentleman refers. These decisions are being considered at present within the long-term financial review.