HC Deb 24 April 1928 vol 216 cc789-91

asked the Secretary for Mines whether he is now in a position to give a list of the coal mines in Scotland which have been or are being closed under the pooling arrangements made by the Scottish coalowners; whether he can give the number of mine workers unemployed as a result of these arrange- ments; and what steps, if any, are being taken to provide suitable alternative employment?

The SECRETARY for MINES (Commodore Douglas King)

I am informed by the Scottish coalowners that 46 pits are to be temporarily closed in the immediate future, and I am asking for a list of these pits. The number of men normally employed at these pits is 8,557, of whom about 503 will continue in employment to keep the pits in good order. The coalowners state that the object of their scheme is to prevent as many men as possible being thrown out of regular employment and to give more regular work to those who can be continued in employment. They are satisfied that, but for the scheme, the number of pits closed and men thrown permanently out of work would have been greater. Should there be an expansion of trade in the future, men will be drawn from the areas in which the collieries are closed to those where work is being carried on.


Will the hon. Gentleman answer the last part of the question, which has been put to him on three successive occasions, namely, what steps are being taken to find alternative employment for the colliers who are displaced as a result of the coal-owners pooling scheme?

Commodore KING

That is a question for the Minister of Labour.


Is the hon. Gentleman aware that an answer given yesterday by his hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour, was to the effect that he could not state when the Report would be furnished by the Industrial Transference Board?


Is it not an integral part of the mine-owners' scheme that they will compensate the owners whose pits are closed, but that there is no provision to compensate the colliers?

Commodore KING

The miners who are displaced have the ordinary facilities provided by the Government for unemployment pay.


Is the Minister aware that many of the men who are unemployed are being deprived of unemployment pay by the Employment. Exchanges, and will he look into that matter?

Commodore KING

This is a matter for the Minister of Labour.


Is it not the duty of the Secretary for Mines to look after the interests of the miners? Surely if miners are displaced, it is his business—


Order order!

23. Mr. PALING

asked the Secretary for Mines the number of collieries closed down in Great Britain since January, 1927; the number of men thrown out of work thereby; the number of pits permanently closed as a result of being worked out; and the number temporarily closed owing to trade depression?

Commodore KING

Since 1st, January, 1927, 769 pits in Great Britain, normally employing 80,800 wage-earners, have closed down and not reopened. Of these, 273 pits employing 14,800 wage-earners have been definitely abandoned. Of the remaining 496 which have been notified as closed but not abandoned, 343 pits employing 60,800 wage-earners were closed owing to trade depression, and 153 employing 5,200 wage-earners were closed for a variety of reasons, such as accidents, repairs and reconstruction.


Was it not admitted in the evidence of the Labour party at the Samuel Commission that there would be at least 300,000 miners permanently out of work?


In view of the serious state of revealed in the Minister's answer, are the Government contemplating taking any steps to put the matter right?


We cannot discuss that at Question Time.