§ Question again proposed, "That this House do now adjourn,"
§ Mr. CECIL WILSON
I want to draw the Minister's attention to an answer which was given to my hon. friend the Member for North-East Derbyshire (Mr. Lee) on 5th July, and to an answer given to a question put by myself on 20th July. My hon. Friend asked the Secretary for Mines whether he had figures showing how the output per man-shift in the coal mines where full time is being worked compares with the output where less than full time is being worked, and what is the amount of difference per man-shift thus caused in the output. The reply to that question was that no such figures were available. When another hon. Member rather pressed the question in regard to the returns which were made, the Minister replied that such returns involved a very great deal of work. The question that I put on 20th July was, whether in the monthly returns showing the number of days worked per week by the mines and in regard to which allowance is made in all the cases for short time, such allowance takes any account of cases where full man-shifts are not worked; if so, to what extent; and whether, if no such account was taken, there was any difficulty in its being ascertained. The reply was that parts of a day shift are counted as such in both sets of employment figures published by the Mines Department. It appears to me that the two answers are in entire contradiction, and if the Minister could now give some explanation we should be glad to have it. Otherwise the question would seem to be in dispute. There is one other respect in which we have a right to complain. We are not supplied with information or there is not available the information which ought to be available in such an important department.
One other matter I would mention is the position of the City of Sheffield and its indebtedness in consequence of the 1708 very serious unemployment there. Very shortly, the Corporation will have to take over the work of the Guardians, with an immense burden of debt. That burden has been incurred during the very serious unemployment of recent years, and in no small measure has been incurred because of the very considerable addition to the population during the War, that population being still there. This necessitous area, like other areas, is necessitous, not in consequence of something which has been done there and not in consequence of any extravagance whatever. That opinion is borne out by the report which Mr. Collins late City Treasurer of Birmingham, has just issued to the Corporation. The report shows that the trouble is caused by unemployment that was due to the war and by coal prices. The position is serious and calls for a great deal more consideration than it has yet received.
§ Colonel LANE FOX
The hon. Member has asked me about two apparently contradictory answers to questions which were put in the House. If he had given me notice that he intended to raise this point I would have looked up the records, but without knowing whether the two questions were on the same point I cannot answer him now. As regards the reckoning of the output, I think I said in a previous answer that the figures are calculated on the basis of whole days, and that where two half-days are worked they count as one whole day. The hon. Member complained that he cannot get certain information from the Mines Department. If we have not got the information we cannot give it. The hon. Member implied that we ought to get it. These things are not so easy. Inquiries often involve the getting of information from other countries, and other countries are often very much more behindhand in their statistics.
§ Colonel LANE FOX
Our whole intention is to make our returns as accurate as possible. The hon. Member raised the question of land settlement in relief of unemployment in the mining areas. This question is being very carefully gone into with a view to finding a solution.
§ Mr. WILSON
As to the question put to the Minister on 5th July, my point was that in his reply the right hon. Gentleman said there were no figures available.