HC Deb 14 March 1917 vol 91 cc1241-2

Order for Second Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."


I think that at seven minutes to Eleven it is rather a large order for the Government to take the Second Reading of a Bill which hands over to another system of public control all the coal mines of this country. We have been accustomed to—


May I explain the Bill? Under the Coal Mines Regulation Act the Statute deals with different kinds of mines, not only coal mines but shale oil mines and certain other mines, and by a particular Section of the Eight Hours Act it is provided that in coal mines only the time for working may, by Order in Council, be extended beyond eight hours. There is no intention at the present moment of extending the eight hours for coal mines, but it happens there is a desire to extend the eight hours for shale-oil mines. There is a great demand for War purposes for shale-oil, and both the workmen and employers engaged in these mines desire that their hours of working shall be extended beyond eight. There is general agreement that this should be done, and it cannot be done without an Act of Parliament, and it is for that purpose that the Bill has been brought in. It does not deal with the large question of the control and working of coal mines. The only purpose of the Bill is to get this shale oil, which is badly wanted. For this purpose we desire to extend the hours. I have spoken to hon. Members interested in the Bill, and they agree that the Second Reading should be taken.


I have no objection to the Second Reading being taken now after the right hon. Gentleman's explanation, but I think hon. Members will agree that we were entitled to some explanation, more especially those who represent Scottish constituencies, where a large number of these shale mines are situated. Personally, I have heard no opinion expressed from Scotland, not even from the Secretary for Scotland or from one of the Lords of the Treasury referred to. I am perfectly willing, however, that the Government should get the Second Reading.


I hope the Home Secretary will assure us that the Junior Lord of the Treasury referred to knows about this Bill. I think we should have the assurance that the one Member of the Government who is affected by this measure will be informed of the contents of this Bill.

The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.

Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER, pursuant to the Order of the House of the 12th February, proposed the Question, "That this House do now adjourn."

Adjourned accordingly at one minute before Eleven o'clock.