HC Deb 13 July 1915 vol 73 cc739-40

I desire to ask the President of the Board of Trade a question, of which I have given him private notice: What steps do the Government propose to take to deal with the situation in South Wales?


I regret to say that the negotiations on the subject of the dispute in the South Wales coalfield, which towards the end of last week appeared likely to have a happy termination, have for the time proved unsuccessful, and as a result of a conference of delegates of the South Wales miners, held at Cardiff yesterday. This conference rejected the terms of settlement put forward by the Government, and passed the following resolution: "That we do not accept anything less than our original proposals, and that we stop the collieries on Thursday next until these demands are conceded." In view of the serious situation thus created, the Government have decided to apply by Proclamation the provisions of Part I. of the Munitions of War Act, 1915, to the difference which has arisen in the South Wales coal-mining industry, on the ground that the existence or continuance of this difference is prejudicial to the manufacture, transport and supply of munitions of war. The Proclamation, which will be issued to-day, will have the effect of making it an offence to take part in a strike or lock-out unless the difference has been reported to the Board of Trade, and the Board have not within twenty-one days of such report referred it for settlement by one of the methods prescribed in the Act.


What steps are the Government going to take to bring the Proclamation before the notice of the men who are actually engaged in the industry?


A statement is being made to the Press simultaneously with the statement which I have now made to the House, and I hope that by that means the men in the South Wales coalfields will realise what action is being taken.


Will the right hon. Gentleman see that copies of the Proclamation are sent to-morrow to the coalfields?


Certainly. We shall take every means to make known in the coalfields exactly what has happened.