§ Captain BOWYER
(by Private Notice) asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the increased price of coal, it is the intention of the Government to take into consideration the cases of British manufacturers who have made contracts for the supply of manufactured articles on the basis of coal prices previous to the 14th instant; what action the Government proposes to take to assist manufacturers who have completed contracts without a protective Clause providing for an increase in the price of coal and who will consequently suffer grave financial loss; and whether, in view of the menace to British trade from an increase in the price of coal, the Government will make such concessions as will enable British manufacturers to complete the contracts which they have made abroad?
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
It would be quite impossible to adopt the suggestion of my hon. Friend. This is one of the inevitable hardships of the situation.
§ 17. Mr. JESSON
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has considered the possible effect of the present shortage and cost of coal and gas upon those people whose incomes are less than a pre-war average of 25s. per week should there be another influenza epidemic during the coming winter; and whether, having regard to this shortage and cost and the necessity for exporting more coal, he will consider the advisability of urging upon the heads of great industrial undertakings the desirability of substituting oil fuel for coal, with a view to lessening the present demand for coal and enabling poor people to obtain it in larger quantities and at cheaper prices?
§ Sir A. GEDDES
I do not think it would be practicable to secure any considerable alleviation of the coal position for the coming winter by the substitution of oil fuel for coal in industrial works, as this would involve important alterations to plant. But I have no doubt that the idea is being carefully considered in many industries. Gas works have been urged to make greater use of gas oil, and I believe this is being done, so far as possible. An increase in the output of coal is the best remedy.