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Foundry Capacity (South-East England)

Volume 12: debated on Monday 9 November 1981

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asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether, in view of transport costs of heavy castings, he is satisfied with the availability of foundry capacity in South-East England.

Yes. There is substantial overcapacity in this sector in the United Kingdom generally. I understand that transport costs of heavy castings are small in relation to the delivered price.

Is the Minister aware of the stated intention of the Ford Motor Company to close the whole of the Thames foundry at Dagenham early in 1984? Is he prepared to intervene, given that that closure would mean at least 5,000 redundancies and cause grave social problems to the surrounding area?

I cannot speculate about individual cases. As regards the hon. Gentleman's general point, there are 65 ferrous and 75 non-ferrous foundries in the whole of the South-East. However, it would be wrong for me to comment on a specific foundry.

Is the Minister aware that the foundry industry faces a crisis not only in the South-East, but throughout the United Kingdom? We understand that Lazard Brothers has recently been making an assessment of the foundry industry's future capacity. Will the Minister comment on that? When are we likely to receive a report?

It is true that there is a problem of overcapacity in the foundry industry. To some extent, that problem was exacerbated by the subsidies and schemes of the previous Labour Government. Lazards is putting forward a scheme, which is primarily one for the industry to help itself. The Department of Industry is looking at it.

The right hon. Gentleman is quite unjustified in that assumption. Lazards has put forward a scheme relating to the sector and we are looking at it.

Since the foundry at Fords is an integrated part of the production of motor vehicles there, will the Department of Industry look on with equanimity if replacement castings have to come from abroad?

I cannot comment on any decision that Ford is about to take regarding its foundry.