§ 43. Sir J. BUTCHER
asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been called to numerous statements recently made by or on behalf of the miners in the public Press to the effect that the Government gave a positive pledge that coal would not be decontrolled until 31st August, 1921, and that the decontrol of coal on 31st March, 1921, was a breach of faith with the miners; and whether any such pledge was ever given or any such broach of faith committed?
§ The SECRETARY for MINES (Mr. Bridgeman)
I have been asked to reply. I would refer my hon. and learned Friend to the speeches made by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer and myself on the Second Reading of the Decontrol Bill. It was then pointed out that it had been made abundantly clear, both here and in another place, during the passage of the Mining Industry Act, that the period of extension of control provided by that Act was a maximum period, and that control would not be exercised for a moment longer than was necessary. As to any suggestion of a breach of faith with either owners or miners, I would remind the House that the owners pressed for the limitation of the period of extension to the 31st March last, and the vote of the miners' representatives against the Second Reading of the Mining Industry Bill would, if it had been successful, have led to the termination of control on 31st August last.
§ Mr. W. THORNE
In view of the present situation are the Government considering the advisability of releasing the 2068 very large amount of coal now in the Thames to factories and workshops, so as to prevent their being obliged to close?
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
We are giving most careful consideration to the distribution of the coal we have in the country
§ Mr. THORNE
Can the hon. Gentleman give any reason why the large amount of coal that is already in ships on the Thames is not being properly distributed and is being hung up for want of instructions from the Ministry?
§ Mr. THORNE
Are you going to allow the present state of things to continue and thousands and thousands of men and women to be thrown out of employment? [HON. MEMBERS: "It is your fault!"] It is not our fault, it is yours.