HC Deb 22 March 1917 vol 91 cc2048-9
40. Mr. D. MILLAR

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is now in a position to make a statement in the House as to the arrangements which have been made for the control and management of the coal mines by the Coal Controller?


The Board of Trade have now assumed control of all the collieries in Great Britain and Ireland, and a Department has been set up under the Controller of Coal Mines to exercise this control. An Advisory Board representa- tive of the coalowners and the miners in the various districts has been attached to the Controller. It is not proposed generally to interfere in the actual management of the undertakings by their owners, who will be responsible to the Government for the safe and efficient working of the properties. It is also not proposed to interfere with the machinery already set up in the various districts for dealing with disputes.

The Controller of Coal Mines is now dealing with the question of the distribution of supplies with a view to securing economy of transport and of consumption of coal. The financial arrangements arising out of the control are receiving very careful consideration, but I am not at present in a position to make a statement on the subject. Miners' wages are, as a general rule, based on the prices of coal. It has been agreed with the representatives of the miners that, in the event of prices falling in any district, no steps will be taken to effect a reduction of wages without the representatives of the men being first taken into consultation.


Have the financial arrangements yet been completed with the coalowners, and has any announcement yet been made to them direct on the subject?


No. The whole matter is still under consideration and negotiations are being opened up with the coalowners.


Has any representative of Irish coal mines been appointed on that Committee?


I cannot say, but I will make inquiries, and communicate with the hon. Member.