§ 57. Mr. RICHARDS
asked the Home Secretary whether the Coal Supplies Committee are asking the miners to curtail their Christmas holidays to prevent a slackening in the supply of coal; whether it has been brought to his notice that at a number of South Wales collieries the workmen are employed only two or three days per week; whether this loss of work is due to the shortage of ships and the freight charges, caused largely by a number of British-owned ships being engaged in trading between foreign ports; the number of British ships engaged in the export of coal from the United States to the Argentine Republic; and whether these ships are afforded the protection of the British Navy?
My right hon. Friend has asked me to answer this question. 29 The position is, I am informed, as stated in the first two parts of my hon. Friend's question, and there is, in fact, a shortage of tonnage for mercantile purposes. I am unable to state the number of British ships at present engaged in carrying coal from the United States to the Argentine Republic. The Government have, however, recently taken power by Order in Council to prohibit British ships from carrying cargo between foreign ports, except under licences. This power of prohibition came into force on 1st December, and the issue and refusal of licences is being dealt with by an expert Committee.