§ 78. Mr. E. JONES
asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that South Wales mines are being thrown idle because of the accumulation of loaded wagons of coal and coke at Newport and Cardiff; whether he will issue telegraphic instructions for the coal to be dispatched to the large centres where industries and householders are suffering acutely from a shortage of coal; will he, if necessary, arrange for working parties of soldiers or German prisoners to discharge the wagons so that they may be returned to the mines without delay; and whether he will at once appoint a controller of mineral transport for South Wales so as to keep the pits going without further prolonged stoppages or intermittent idleness?
§ Mr. G. ROBERTS
My right hon. Friend has asked me to reply to this question. I am aware that shortage of tonnage has recently caused temporary stoppages at a number of collieries in South Wales. The Board of Trade, the Ministry of Munitions, and the Coal Mining Organisation Committee have done what they can, with the assistance of the District Coal and Coke Supplies Committee, to encourage the stocking of coal, both by consumers and colliery owners, in order to meet the situation as far as possible, but I am not 1459 aware of any district at present where it can be said that industries are suffering acutely from a shortage of coal. I do not think that the suggested appointment of a controller of mineral transport is necessary.
Mr. HUGH EDWARDS
Arising out of that reply may I ask whether it is not a fact that both at Newport and at Cardiff industries are being dislocated for the want of coal?
§ Mr. G. ROBERTS
I have given this matter some consideration this morning, and as far as the information available goes it proves that there is nothing abnormal in the existing circumstances, but the matter is being closely watched and every endeavour will be made to avoid an interruption of industry.