HC Deb 04 March 1918 vol 103 cc1712-4
47. Admiral of the Fleet Sir HEDWORTH MEUX

asked the Prime Minister whether the attention of the Government has been called to the meeting of the Institution of Petroleum Technologists at the Royal Society of Arts, on Tuesday, 19th February, at which meeting it was stated that an immense amount of mineral oil could be produced in this country from cannel coal; whether the Government is aware that many millions of tons of cannel coal, from which an average of at least 35 gallons of oil per ton could easily and speedily be obtained, are now lying neglected on colliery waste heaps; and whether, in view of the necessity of obtaining oil for the Navy and reducing the tonnage now employed in importing oil into this country, the necessary steps for working this source of oil supply will be at once initiated?


I have been asked to answer this question. I cannot add anything to the full statement I made in Debate on the 28th ultimo.


Arising out of that answer—which is really no answer at all— I asked whether the attention of the Government has been called to the existence of oil in this country which could be got with the aid of the peculiar knowledge of the Royal Society of Arts? I further ask now were you given the severely censored report of these proceedings or the verbatim one?


If the hon. and gallant Gentleman will do me the kindness to read the remarks I made on the 28th ultimo— I think he was not in the House—he will see that I have answered his question.


Has the recovery of petroleum, urgent last October, ceased to be urgent now?

43. Sir H. MEUX

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that since the outbreak of war a German subject, Dr. Ludwig Diehl, was released on a medical certificate, sent back to Germany, and is now working or superintending retorts on Westphalian coalfields to obtain oil; whether, previous to the War, this same Dr. Ludwig Diehl used a retort at Chiswick at which samples of Westphalian coal were satisfactorily tested to produce oil; and whether the proportion of oil thus obtained was greater or less than can be obtained from British cannel coal?

The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Sir George Cave)

My right hon. Friend has asked me to reply to this question. Dr. Ludwig Diehl is a metallurgical chemist who has been mainly occupied with the improvement of processes for the extraction of gold. In accordance with the agreement with the German Government he was allowed to return to Germany in January, 1917, as he was then over fifty-five years of age and suffering from angina pectoris. In March, 1917, he was under treatment in a nursing home in Berlin. I have no information as to his present occupation in Germany nor as to his alleged experiments in this country before the War.


Will my right hon. Friend make inquiries and find out whether this released German is not now doing for the German Government what our Government refuses to do for the people of this country?


I have no means of ascertaining what he is doing in Germany.