HC Deb 30 April 1928 vol 216 cc1320-2
29. Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

asked the Secretary for Mines whether he can give any further information as to the steps being taken to relieve the shortage of coal at the Humber ports, both for export and bunkers; if he is aware that several large collieries have closed down altogether for the present, although exporters, shippers, and shipping firms are asking for their products; and whether he is taking any action to prevent this injury to trade of national importance?

Commodore KING

I am keeping in close touch with the situation, and am aware that the operations of the scheme have caused a shortage of coal for export from, and bunkers in, the Humber during the past week or two. I am advised that the Central Collieries Commercial Association have the position under urgent consideration. I am authorised to state that the Humber Coal Exporters' Association, who are most immediately affected, while dissatisfied with the working of the scheme during the past month, are in direct communication with the Central Collieries Commercial Association with a view to finding a remedy for the difficulties. They are prepared to give the scheme a fair trial, and do not wish at present to make any representations on the matter. I have to-day been informed that the percentage quota has been increased from 65 per cent. to 67½ per cent. for the month of May, and this in itself will tend to ease the situation.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman without any powers to have the scheme itself modified, in view of the fact that all the collieries are being kept on a 67½ per cent. basis, with the consequent overhead charges, which is bound to mean an increase in price?

Commodore KING

Not only have I no powers, but I have no wish unnecessarily to interfere in business arrangements.


Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman consult Sir Herbert Samuel about this, since it is very largely due to his efforts that this state of affairs has been produced?


Is it true that certain colliery undertakings in this area are holding up export coal, and is it not the duty of the Department to intervene at once?

Commodore KING

No, Sir; it is arranged under a quota system, with which the hon. Member is familiar.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

Is it not the case that the part of the proposals of the Samuel Commission adopted by the Government was to concentrate on the better pits and close down the weaker ones, whereas this scheme keeps all pits going alike?


We cannot go into that question now.