§ MR. A. J. MUNDELLA (Sheffield, Brightside)
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury why the Customs Return of Coal, Cinders and Patent Fuel shipped 939 from the several ports of England, Scotland and Ireland for the year 1895, was only issued on 20th February 1897; when the Return for 1896 may be expected, and if anything can be done to secure the publication of these Returns early in the year following the year of export?
§ MR. HANBURY
A Return is issued by the Board of Trade early in January each year, giving the exports of coal, coke, cinders and fuel for the preceding calendar year (page 54 of Board of Trade Returns). These figures are obtained from the Customs, and so far as the exports are concerned there would be no reason for not furnishing this information in the Return mentioned by the right hon. Member during the month of January, though it gives the facts in much greater detail, both as to the countries to which the exports go and the ports of the United Kingdom from which they are exported. But the Return also gives the coastwise traffic, which the Board of Trade Return does not give, and this would take at least a fortnight to prepare, as the Customs have to obtain the information specially from all the ports of the Kingdom. The fact is, however, that this is not an annual Government Return, but is moved for by a private Member, and last year it was not moved for at all. This year the Returns for both 1895 and 1896 were ordered by the House of Commons on 4th February, 1897, and no urgency was intimated.