HC Deb 23 June 1898 vol 59 cc1231-3
MR. J. WILSON (Falkirk)

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty if he is aware that there are collieries in Scotland producing in all over 100,000 tons of coal per day, or a total of over 30 millions of tons per annum, of which a considerable portion is steam coal, almost equal to Welsh coal in results, and which is used by the Atlantic steamers sailing from Glasgow to New York, and other more distant ports, and that the present price of such coal is not more than the normal price of Welsh coal; and if, in these circumstances, he will reconsider the decision to abandon the naval manœuvres, which only require about 50,000 tons of coal at the most?

MR. FENWICK (Northumberland, Wansbeck)

May I ask the right honourable Gentleman, having regard to the fact that experiments specially instituted by the Admiralty showed that the best results were obtained in the Navy by a mixture of Northumberland and Welsh coal, whether, with a view to permitting the naval manœuvres to be carried out this year, he would not deem it advisable to place additional orders with Northumberland coalowners?

THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (Mr. G. J. GOSCHEN,) St. George's, Hanover Square

Trials have been made of Scotch coal at various times, and especially in 1888, of some descriptions of coal specially selected by the Scottish Coalmasters' Association. The result of these trials was to show that this coal was so inferior to South Wales coal as to render its general use in the Service unadvisable. Trials are made of any coal which may be considered to meet the requirements of the Fleet.

COLONEL GUNTER (Yorks., W.R. Barkstone Ash)

was understood to ask if trials had been made with Yorkshire coal.


I think I may say that various kinds of coal have been tried. Smokeless coal is very important, because a great deal of the utility of the manœuvres consists in signalling, and this signalling is particularly interfered with by coal which emits smoke.


In regard to the right honourable Gentleman's statement that samples of Scotch coal had been tried with unsatisfactory results, may I ask whether it is not a fact that the results with the Scotch coal were only 10 per cent. inferior to the Welsh coal?


I am not aware of that, but I am aware that it was found so inferior that the Admiralty did not consider it advisable to introduce it generally into the Navy. That is my information.


But is it not a fact that the experiments to which I have referred proved conclusively that the best results for the Navy were obtained from a mixture of Northumberland and Welsh steam coal? With a view to the manœuvres being carried out this year, does not the right honourable Gentleman deem it advisable to increase the Admiralty's purchases from the Northumberland steam coal companies?


No; I cannot undertake to say that it would have an effect upon the manœuvres this year, but certainly what we have seen of the difficulties with reference to Welsh coal will induce the Admiralty to renew the experiments in every possible direction, and to give every coal a chance of being used for the Navy according to its quality. That will be the natural result of the strike or lockout, which has so limited the use of Welsh coal. Naturally, we shall be anxious to make experiments in every direction.


The right honourable Gentleman told me the other day that the naval manœuvres involved a consumption of 50,000 tons of coals, and I understood him to say that that included the refilling of the bunkers. Can the right honourable Gentleman now state what quantity of coal will be saved by not holding the manœuvres?


I have no other information than that which I gave the other day. I presume the bunkers would first have to be emptied of the coal in them.