§ 31 and 32. Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) whether he is aware that a number of the men who are causing the trouble at the coal wharves by refusing to load or take out the carts do not belong to the Coal Porters' Union, and therefore the steps taken by his Department in this respect would seem to be ineffectual so far as the men are concerned; what other means he has at his disposal to compel these men to work; and (2) whether he is aware that one of the men who refused to load coal last week for a well-known firm of coal factors was himself a delegate of the Coal Porters' Union; that the same man was idle on the two most important days in the week before Christmas and that last week he did not start loading his coal till 10 a.m. on Tuesday; that at another large firm a carman was instructed to take a load of coal out but refused, demanding his insurance card and his money and has done nothing else but loaf about doing odd jobs on the wharf; that at a third firm out of five carmen one only came to work on 12th February; that in the majority of these cases the men are above military age; will he say whether these men can be brought under the Defence of the Realm Act; and, if not, will he consider the advisability of introducing legislation compelling these idle men and others like them to do work of national importance?
I believe that the men's organisations are prepared to make a serious effort to deal with these cases, and I hope that their efforts will be productive of good results. As regards the last part of the second question, I would point out that the supply of labour for work of national importance is dealt with by the Director-General of National Service. The whole subject of distribution is one that will receive the attention of the Controller of Coal Mines.
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that at the London and North-Western and Metropolitan depot this morning, where the output of coal is something like 200 tons daily, no men turned up to work owing to the wet weather, and what does he propose to do to meet this position?
I cannot be expected to be aware of what happened this morning. I will take note of what the hon. Gentleman says. This question will now come under the consideration of the Controller of Coal Mines.
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
Is the hon. Gentleman not aware that about a week ago he told me he was going to take steps to prevent this sort of thing occurring? What is the result of the steps he has taken?
I answered the hon. Gentleman that we were taking steps to facilitate the distribution of coal. We have, by arrangement with the Army authorities, placed a number of lorries at the disposal of merchants.
I think I had better ask that the hon. Gentleman should be placed in authority over them.