HC Deb 27 November 1928 vol 223 cc218-9
36.

asked the Secretary for Mines if he is aware that the average cost for local rates per ton of coal produced in Yorkshire for the year 1927 was 3.51d., and for the eight months ended 31st August, 1928, the average cost per ton raised was 3.87d.; and will he state how he arrives at the conclusion that the estimated reduction in the cost of production of coal in Yorkshire due to the de-rating of the collieries would be about 4d. per ton?

The answer to the first. part of the question is in the affirmative. With regard to the second part, I would remind the hon. Member that colliery assessments are nearly all based on the output of a previous period. The figures I gave in reply to a question on 2nd May and those quoted by the hon. Member include periods during which the assessments were affected by the shortage of production during 1926, whereas the figures I quoted on 19th and 20th November, relate to the six months ended 30th September this year, when rates paid were based on more normal assessments. The figure of approximately 4d. per ton of coal commercially disposable which I quoted as the estimated average relief from the de-rating of the collieries themselves, is correct. By basing my calculations on the September quarter only I could have justified even a slightly higher figure.

Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that while the figure relating to the rate per ton at the coal mines is constantly a varying factor the figure which the hon. Gentleman has given is an abnormal one; and is he further aware that while he takes the figures for the six months ending September, the figures for the three months ending March were less than 50 per cent. of the rates that have been paid since; and will he now correct this figure on the basis, not of three or six months, but on the basis of the last three or four years?

No, Sir; there is nothing to correct. As I have already told the hon. Gentleman, the figures I have quoted justify a slightly higher rate.

Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that the output for the last three months is much less than the output for the first three months? That is to say, that the circumstances to-day are absolutely abnormal?

As the hon. Member knows perfectly well, the output for the last quarter has no effect on the actual rates for the previous quarter. The output for a particular period has nothing to do with the rate assessment for that period.

40.

asked the Secretary for Mines if he is aware that the average sum paid for local rates per ton of coal produced in Yorkshire, for the half-year ended December, 1927, was 2.57d.; for the half-year ended June, 1928, 3.33d.; and will he state what percentage this represented of the cost of production?

The figures quoted by the hon. Member are correct on the basis of saleable coal produced, but the usual practice, where questions refer to costs, is to take the basis of coal commercially disposable. The latter was the basis used in the reply given to the hon. Member on the 20th November. On this basis the figures would be 2.77d. and 3.6d. The amounts in either case represent 1.59 and 2.14 per cent., respectively, of the cost of production in the two periods.

is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that these figures are for a continuous period of 12 months, and represent 100 per cent. of the amount paid for rates, and does he now think that only 4d. represents 75 per cent. of the amount paid for rates on collieries?

I am perfectly satisfied that 4d. represents the present rate, on the figures which I gave to the hon. Member on the 20th November.