HC Deb 01 December 1926 vol 200 cc1191-2

asked the secretary for Mines whether his attention has been called to the statement of pithead prices published this week; and whether he will issue a statement showing what part of the 50s. per ton is represented by actual costs of production, and what is the relative cost of producing this coal as compared with the figures shown in his Department's returns for April last?

The SECRETARY for MINES (Colonel Lane Fox)

I have seen statements in the Press about pit-head prices, but I have no information as to the various and varying costs of production at such collieries as may be charging 50s. per ton for certain classes of coal.


Has not the right hon. Gentleman in his possession the pit-head price for all the areas previous to the coal stoppage?

Colonel LANE FOX

No. The figures may be varying almost from hour to hour.


Is it not possible to answer the last part of the question, to take those pits which are charging 50s. a ton and to show the figures asked for?

Colonel LANE FOX

No. I have said on several occasions that the conditions vary in every pit, and a statement made about one pit would not necessarily give correct information about another.


Allowing for the alleged variations in the prices of coal at the pit-head, pre-stoppage and at the present time, is it not a fact that the average difference is simply enormous, more than twice, and in some cases three times, higher now than pre-stoppage, and cannot the Government do something to prevent this exploitation of the consumers and the miners?

Colonel LANE FOX

The prices, as I have said, are going down steadily all over the country, and we could not form any estimate, from what is happening at this moment, as to what would happen next week. There is a steady fall in prices at this moment, and that is certain to continue.


If I repeat this question a week to-day, will the right hon. Gentleman be able to give approximately the cost of coal sold at 50s. a ton?

Colonel LANE FOX

The hon. Gentleman cannot expect me to give a figure which will be accurate and applicable to all collieries.


Approximately within 5 or 10 per cent.

Colonel LANE FOX

Approximate figures are very dangerous things to give.


Will the usual quarterly statistical summaries be published later on in respect of those pits which have been working during the general stoppage?

Colonel LANE FOX

Yes; as soon as the figures can be accurately stated, they will be circulated.