HC Deb 13 March 1923 vol 161 cc1242-4

asked the President of the Board of Trade what was the total quantity of pitch manufactured in Great Britain in 1922; what was the quantity of pitch exported from Great Britain in 1922; what quantity of pitch was manufactured in South Wales in 1922; and what quantity was exported from South Wales to France and Belgium in 1922?


According to returns furnished to the Chief Inspector of Alkali, etc. works, the total quantity of pitch produced in the United Kingdom in 1922 was 514,236 tons, of which 16,248 tons were produced in South Wales. The total exports of pitch in 1922 amounted to 428,317 tons. Twenty tons were registered as consigned to France from ports in South Wales. No consignments to Belgium were registered at South Wales ports.


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that France is placed in a specially advantageous position with her supplies of reparation coal from Germany, which she salads with best British small coal, and binds with British pitch to manufacture a cheaper briquette than can be produced in Great Britain; and whether, to prevent the transference of the British patent fuel industry to France, he will take steps to restrict the exportation of pitch to France and Belgium on similar lines to the restrictions on the exportation of scrap iron from this country now in force?

The SECRETARY for MINES (Lieut.-Colonel Lane-Fox)

The hon. Member is under a misapprehension in thinking that there is any restriction on the export of scrap iron from this country. I am aware that the patent fuel industry is passing through a difficult time, but I do not think that it would be in the interests of industry generally to restrict the export of pitch; nor have I any power to do so without authority from Parliament.


Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the patent fuel industry of this country, 95 per cent. of which is situated in the South Wales coalfield, is a great asset for the development of industry generally, and uses up some 4,000,000 tons of small coal, which otherwise would be useless, and that a large number of men are unemployed owing to the depression in this industry?


Is it not the fact that the correct explanation of that is that the patent fuel manufacturers last summer were offered large new contracts for pitch, which they did not accept, and that they are suffering in consequence?

Lieut.-Colonel LANE-FOX

I am aware of the importance of the industry, but I think that the time has not yet come to adopt the line which the hon. Member suggests. With regard to the suggestion of the hon. Member for Newport (Mr. Clarry), I do not know what are the facts.


We do not hear one word of what you are saying.


In reference to pitch, is not the position due to the use of the altogether out-of-date system of taking the gas through the mains, and blowing the dust in such quantities with it that the pitch loses much of its value because of the dust which it contains?