HC Deb 18 August 1919 vol 119 cc2006-7

With speeches of this kind made and the trouble we are getting with regard to rail ways, I am afraid that whatever we propose with regard to nationalisation of the mines would not promote harmony, and I think, therefore, that the whole reason which induced Mr. Justice Sankey to make that recommendation is one which has been falsified by the events of the last few weeks. Now, the hon. Member there asked, "What about control?" We have accepted the principle of unification and reorganisation. We think, and I think that the mine-owners realise, that there is a very great deal of waste which is due to the fact that you have got a large number of different enterprises running in the same area under different management. There are waste of power, waste of management, and waste in distribution.

A case, undoubtedly, has also been made out for giving the miners a greater interest and voice in the working conditions which affect the industry. And then we make this recommendation: That in view of the fact that the lives and livelihood of the miners depend upon the way in which the mines are worked, means should be devised for securing their co-operation in the shaping of the general conditions of the industry without interfering with the executive control of the individual mines. Now I come to the recommendations with regard to unification: That the industry should be so organised as to reduce to a minimum the expenses of management and working charges, and that with this end in view the country should be divided into convenient areas in each of which an amalgamation of neighbouring mines should be undertaken within a limited period, say two years. That the workers in and about the mines should have directors representing them on the body controlling the policy of the area groups to which they belong. Here is a condition put in for the protection of the consumer, to prevent inflation of capital over-capitalisation— The schemes of amalgamation should be subject to the approval of the Government and must conform to any conditions laid down by the Government for the protection of the general body of coal consumers.