§ 9. Mr. HOUSTON
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware of the great congestion in South Wales ports and consequent. serious delay to steamers, which are kept waiting for lengthy periods not only for cargoes of 964 coal but also for bunker coal; whether he is aware that, owing to the difficulty of obtaining bunker coal in Liverpool and the high cost of the same, steamship owners were requested by the Coal Controller to bunker their steamers at South Wales ports; whether he is aware that a 10,000ton liner steamer has been delayed ten days waiting for bunker coal at Cardiff, entailing congestion and waste of quay space occupied by her outward cargo at Glasgow and at Liverpool; and can he state whether the congestion and delay are due to the Coal Controller or the Ministry of Transport in failing to provide wagons?
§ The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of TRADE (Sir A. Geddes)
I am aware that there is considerable detention of vessels in South Wales' ports at the present time. The acute position is due to the fact that there is an unusually large amount of tonnage in the ports, but the transport situation in South Wales and tipping facilities at the ports are not satisfactory, the chief difficulty being, I am informed, the restricted hours of working at the tips which results in the loss of considerable output of coal and involves delay to shipping. This matter is receiving the attention of the Ministries of Shipping and of Transport, and also of my Department. I am not aware of any case of a 10,000-ton liner delayed for ten days waiting for bunker coal at Cardiff. If, however, the hon. Member has in mind the "Hyacinthus,"this vessel arrived on the 12th instant and required a part cargo of coal as well as bunkers; the attention of the local representative of the Controller of Coal Mines was not called to the position by the shipping agents until the 16th instant; and arrangements have been made for the vessel to be bunkered to-day.
§ Mr. HOUSTON
Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that the whole of this delay is due to the action of the Coal Controller in holding up coal, and that this steamer has now been waiting thirteen days for bunkers, which will add some £8,000 to the cost of the voyage, and that also will add to the cost of food in this country?
§ Sir A. GEDDES
I know about the "Hyacinthus," but in that particular case it was not due to the local representative of the Coal Controller failing to do something. Really, he was not told by the ship agents what they wanted.
§ Mr. HOUSTON
Will the right hon. Gentleman inquire further into the matter, and then he will find it was due to the Coal Controller and not to the local coal controller?