HC Deb 03 December 1919 vol 122 cc402-4
85. Mr. ROYCE

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that notices have been sent from the Swanwick collieries regretting that after 1st December it will not be possible, owing to the action of the Government., to supply any coal other than coal for industrial purposes; whether these notices have been sent to coal clubs and mutual benefit coal supply associations who are registered for their members' household coal supplies with this colliery, and who are now in difficulties as to the source from which to obtain supplies of coal; and what steps he proposes to take to meet the situation?


asked why, if the cost of the reduction of 10s. per ton in the price of domestic fuel is derived from the profits on exports, colliery owners are refusing to supply merchants with other than industrial coal?


A number of the collieries, including those mentioned by the hon. Member for Holland-with-Boston, represented that owing to financial difficulties they would be unable to continue the supply of household coal at the reduced prices. Steps are being taken to meet financial difficulties resulting from the reduction, and in the meantime the collieries in question have been instructed to continue normal working and distribution, and I have no doubt that they will carry out the instructions.


Are we to understand that the Government are subsidising these mines?


No. I have explained fully to the House that the subsidy which is required to meet the expenses of the collieries which are working at a loss is drawn not from the taxpayers, but from the profits on the coal which is exported.


Is there any prospect of reducing the price of ocean-going coal as well as export coal, seeing the bearing that that has upon the price of food in this country?


There is no prospect of reducing the price of export coal. The other matter, as I have explained, is under consideration.


What arrangements have been made as to the payment of the 10s? Is it to be to the colliery owners or the merchants?


To the colliery owners.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the price of export coal is creating a great deal of feeling between this country and France?


The hon. Member's information, I think, must be incomplete, because the French are getting the coal at present at a lower rate than neutrals.

86. Mr. HURD

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that many colliery-owners are now working their collieries at a loss; whether they have already had to find a large amount of capital to meet the costs due to the Sankey Award and the Controller's war wages, the latter not being adjusted by the Controller for some months: and whether, in these circumstances and in view of the 10s. per ton reduction in the price of coal, he will arrange for the Government itself to find the necessary money to finance the industry during the period, probably from twelve to eighteen months, before the official accounts are adjusted?


I am aware that many colliery-owners are now working their collieries at a loss. The increases in. wages and other costs have made it necessary to provide more working capital. In any case, however, in which collieries are financially embarrassed, it is the practice of the Controller to make advances on account of his statutory liabilities. I recognise that the reduction in the price of household and domes[...] coal will increase the need for such advance, both in frequency and in amount.

Forward to