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British Steel Corporation

Volume 979: debated on Monday 25 February 1980

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15.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if, in the light of the subsidies paid on the abortive contract for limestone to Amey Roadstone Ltd., intended for Llanwern Steelworks, he will ensure that future subsidies to the British Steel Corporation are earmarked to specific projects approved by him as part of the overall investment plan.

No. My right hon. Friend approves BSC's general programme of investment, and details of major investment projects are submitted to the Department of Industry, but contracts relating to routine operational needs are a matter for the Corporation.

Is the Minister aware that if he investigated the contract he would be startled at his findings? Is not the industry badly mismanaged and is not that the cause of the substantial losses? Should not the management be suspended and a top level inquiry instituted, as repeatedly requested by the trade unions?

I understand that the hon. Gentleman has corresponded with the chairman of the British Steel Coporation. He has had an opportunity to examine the Amey Roadstone position and was invited to discuss the matter further during a visit to Llanwern. It is unwise to move away from the specific problems and come to general conclusions.