HC Deb 23 June 1927 vol 207 cc2030-2

asked the Prime Minister, in view of the fact that little progress has been made in carrying out the Coal Commission's recommendations to remedy the methods of production, distribution, and marketing prevailing in the coal industry, what steps the Government intends to take to accelerate those reforms which the Commissioners considered vitally necessary; and to what extent the recommendations of the departmental committee on co-operative selling, of last December, have been put into practice?

The SECRETARY for MINES (Colonel Lane Fox)

I have been asked to reply. As regards the first part of the question, I would refer my Noble Friend to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to a question by the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. D. Graham) on the 5th April. As regards the last part, I believe that action on the lines recommended by the Committee is being actively discussed in several districts, but, so far as I know, no practical effect has yet been given to their recommendations.


Will the right hon. Gentleman, in dealing with this matter, endeavour to conceive it possible that those who are responsible for the conduct of the industry probably know more about how to run it than any politician?


That is rather like an argument.


Have not two Royal Commissions and one Departmental Committee strongly condemned the present ill-organised and chaotic condition of the coal industry?

Colonel LANE FOX

I am not sure that the Noble Lord quite accurately describes the situation, but I know it would be a great mistake to butt in too soon.


While bowing respectfully to your ruling, Sir, may I submit that it does bear upon the question. The Government are being pressed by a lot of political busybodies to interfere, and I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he will bear in mind the possibility that the people who conduct the industry have some knowledge as how to conduct it.


That is a repetition of the answer given by the Minister.


asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been drawn to the steadily increasing poverty, suffering, and unemployment in the mining areas and to the discontent among the mining population owing to the failure of those responsible to take action to effect a remedy, and to the possibility of a new and grave crisis arising in the near future; whether the Government has considered this new situation; and what steps he proposes to take to meet the emergency?

Colonel LANE FOX

I have been asked to reply. His Majesty's Government are aware of present conditions in the mining industry and are giving the matter their special consideration. I cannot say more than that at the moment.


When shall we have a reply from the Government as to what they are doing?

Colonel LANE FOX

I think the hon. Member had better put down another question.


Are we to understand that the only effective work that is being done by the Government to deal with the crisis is to pass the Trade Disputes and Trade Unions Bill?

Colonel LANE FOX

No, the hon. Member would be entirely mistaken if he thought that.


Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the advisability of allowing the industry to work out its own difficulties itself?


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that while he is thinking about it there are thousands of miners and their wives and children who are starving?