HC Deb 17 March 1920 vol 126 cc2204-5

asked the Minister of Transport if his attention has been called to the public recommendation by the Coal Controller in favour of the use of anthracite coal and his recommendation that special stoves should be provided for consumers for domestic use; whether he is aware that consumers in Essex have been unable to obtain any supplies of this coal since November last although orders have been accepted by the collieries concerned; and whether he can expedite transport so as to facilitate these deliveries and remove the hardships which have resulted from the delays?


I am aware of the recommendations to and the difficulties of the consumers mentioned by the hon. Baronet. No specific cases have been brought to my notice, but I shall be glad to look into any of which the hon. Baronet submits particulars to me. I would, however, point out that owing to diversion from sea-borne routes, the railway companies are being called upon to carry this traffic inland from South Wales in much greater volume than before the War. This not only requires the use of additional wagons when there is a general shortage, but causes additional difficulty to the railways in that the latter, generally speaking, are not laid out to deal with the volume of traffic in the direction in which it is now flowing. This is the ease throughout the Kingdom, and does not apply to anthracite coal only. The figures for anthracite traffic originating on the Great Western Railway for six months in 1914 and 1919 show that in the latter year there was an increase of 234,000 tons, or 31 per cent. in the traffic sent by rail inland, and a decrease of 528,900 tons, or 45 per cent., in the traffic shipped.


Am I to understand that 40 per cent. of the traffic which has been transferred from sea-borne traffic to rail-borne traffic applies not only to anthracite coal but to other coal and other goods, and will the hon. Gentleman say, in addition, what steps the Ministry of Transport are taking in order to re-transfer to sea-borne traffic that large proportion which is now overburdening the railways?


The latest information which the Ministry has shows that 40 per cent. does represent at present the amount of traffic which was formerly sea-borne and which was transferred to the railways. With a view to adjusting that state of affairs the coastwise Subsidy has been maintained up to the present, and the continuance of that is being considered.

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