§ 13. Mr. E. JONES
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he will make inquiries and issue a Report as to the number of men now involved in supplying Admiralty coal who will be displaced should the whole of the Fleet be eventually equipped for burning oil instead of coal; and whether he will agree to the setting up of a Committee to inquire and report as to the economic effect upon coal prices, wages, and labour conditions of such a displacement?
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
As pointed out in paragraph 9, page 5, of Parliamentary Paper Cd. 7419, coal must continue to be the principal combustible in His Majesty's Navy for some time to come. If therefore the contingency referred to in the first part of the question ever arises it can only be at some distant date. The average demand of the Admiralty upon the best classes of Welsh steam coal is less than one-tenth of the total output, and even supposing this small proportion were to suffer any diminution it is obviously impossible to estimate now what will be the circumstances of the coal supply, prices, wages, labour and other conditions at some unknown distant date. An enquiry held now on such an hypothetical basis could not be of any practical utility, and it is not proposed to adopt my hon. Friend's suggestion.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I am not aware of any such number being involved. If the Admiralty demand for the small proportion of the coal were to undergo gradual diminution, there are no grounds for assuming that the excellent coal of South Wales would not find a market.