HC Deb 01 August 1905 vol 150 cc1178-9
MR. D. A. THOMAS (Merthyr Tydvil)

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury if he has under consideration the desirability of proposing legislation to empower the Government, in certain contingencies, to prohibit the export of Welsh steam coal, such as that now supplied for the use of the British Navy.


I do not think it is necessary to have any special powers conferred upon the Government. I believe they have sufficient powers to prevent the export of steam coal under the circumstances contemplated in the Question.

COLONEL LUCAS (Suffolk, Lowestoft)

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury if he will agree to the appointment of a Royal Commission, or, if not a Royal Commission, if he will agree to the appointment of a Committee, to inquire into all the circumstances of the purchase of collieries in South Wales by a so called German syndicate, the inquiry particularly to include the value of the coal for steamships.


None of the information at our disposal leads us to believe that there is a German syndicate in treaty for any area, or any important area, or any area at all, of the steam coal which is used by His Majesty's Navy. But, as I have told the House, we should not, and could not, view with indifference the acquisition by a foreign syndicate, or any syndicate in which foreign influences predominated, of that steam coal which is absolutely necessary to the mobility of our Fleets. Supposing we had grounds for believing that a foreign syndicate was in process of obtaining that control which we deprecate, I do not think it would be difficult to deal with the matter. We might meet it by providing that the measure passed within living memory, permitting foreigners to be possessed of real property in this country, should be so far modified as that they should not be allowed to possess real property which was absolutely necessary for the defence of these islands, or for the interests of His Majesty's Army or His Majesty's Navy. Such a Bill would, I think, be in consonance with accepted principles of legislation. I do not think the necessity or introducing it has yet shown itself; but, as far as the Government are concerned, that is the line upon which we might proceed should the necessity arise.