HC Deb 04 June 1930 vol 239 cc2199-338

Lords Amendment: In page 3, line 38, after the word "allocation," insert: such maximum being fixed after taking into consideration and providing for the last ascertained consumption in that district of coal produced therein;

Question again proposed, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."


I was explaining that under the Bill there will be three districts, North Staffordshire, South Staffordshire exclusive of Cannock Chase, and the Cannock Chase area and that, assuming that these districts continue as separate districts under the first Schedule, that is, are not amalgamated, there would be from the Central Council a district allocation in each case. It is, of course, provided under the Bill that, if any of these districts is dissatisfied with its allocation, it can take its disagreement to arbitration, that is to an independent arbitrator, who reviews all the circumstances, considers the position as between the Central Council and the district machinery and gives his decision. Quite apart from that, and the fact that he, of course, will take all the circumstances into account, the owners who make up the executive boards in these districts would themselves, together with the Central Council or the national body, have to keep every factor before them so that there is a complete safeguard under the Bill without going to the dangerous and, as I regard it, impossible position that this Amendment would create.

Let me turn now to one or two of the suggestions that have been made. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Barkston Ash (Colonel Lane Fox) recognised that there was difficulty in leaving the words as they stand in the Amendment, and suggested that the situation could be met if the words "and provided for" were excluded and if it were merely a kind of broad instruction, as I understand it, to take into consideration the last ascertained consumption in that area. I am bound to remind the House that that is precisely the suggestion that was made in another place, and it was rejected by the noble Lord who was in charge of the Amendment in the form in which it appears on the Paper on the ground that, if those words were taken out, it meant nothing at all. In other words, he said it simply leaves you exactly where you were before the district machinery and before the central machinery, with direct allocation to that district, and the right of that district to arbitration, and, of course, that is perfectly correct. The words with that part deleted are quite meaningless and are quite unnecessary, and it would not help us in the least to include them in the Bill.


Is the right hon. Gentleman really right on that? Supposing you have no allocation, then the obvious course is for the Central Board to give a purely mathematical distribution of the correct amount of coal to be won among the districts as apportioned, but if you put these words in, there is a direction that they are to have special regard to these districts which consume in their area the coal they produce there. I should have thought that did give a very specific direction to the Central Board to have regard to the facts in this exceptional case.


The right hon. Gentleman is obviously in very great difficulty, as hon. Members opposite are, in importing any element of the area of consumption into this question. We all recognise that it is very difficult, if not impossible, to do that. We are thrown back on the production of the area, and that precisely is what the central body has to take into account, among other things, in making an allocation to that area, what it has been during the past and what it can do within the limits of the Bill, subject always, of course, to disposal of the coal at a remunerative level. That is the correct way in which to view the problem. As regards the South Staffordshire territory, part of the argument has apparently proceeded on the assumption that there is some kind of stable output for consumption in this district. That is not the case. In point of fact, it has varied by as much as 14 per cent. in that limited area within recent times, so that that is an important factor if hon. Members are suggesting that something is to be fixed for this particular district, or, so to speak, guaranteed. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for North Leeds (Captain Peake) thought, apparently, that these words might disappear. He tried then to relate it to the production in that area, or, at all events, that was the effect of his proposal. I have partly replied to that in the observation I have just made that it is the duty of the central machinery to have regard to the output, which is the only possible basis for a proposal of this kind.

Captain PEAKE

It is nowhere stated in the Bill, as far as I can see, that the Central Council shall take into consideration past results at all. I have no doubt they will do so, but it is nowhere laid down as a principle.


I cannot say off-hand whether there is a specific reference, but there has never been any doubt about that, and there cannot be under this legislation. The Central Council has to take the general record of the district into account, and it reaches right down to the individual colliery, which gets its standard tonnage, to which the quota is applied. That standard tonnage, if it is fairly fixed, must have regard to what the colliery has been doing, and so, from the very foundation of the scheme upwards, you get a reference to what has been the state of affairs, subject always to what is the undeniable object of this part of the Bill, the disposal of the coal at a remunerative level, putting such quantities on the market as will bring a proper price. So that these suggestions which have been made, I am afraid, could not possibly meet the situation, and, in any event, it would be quite impossible to try to legislate in this part of the Bill for a specific district. The Amendment in this form, assuming that the words "and provided for" were included, raises the whole Lancashire problem, which, of course, will create a perfectly impossible situation. I fall back on this, that there are the rights of arbitration as among the districts, or as between the individual districts, of which South Staffordshire is one, and the central body, and that all circumstances will be taken into account by the central body in its dealings with the executive body, which is the district organisation. On those grounds I think the case for the Amendment, which would introduce chaos into an important part of the Bill, fails. Accordingly, I must adhere to my Motion that we disagree with the Lords.

5.0 p.m.


The President of the Board of Trade has laid great stress on the fact that Staffordshire is divided in the Schedule into three parts, but those are only divisions of convenience, to bring the areas into line with all the other districts set out in the Schedule. The division of Staffordshire into three parts has really no effect whatever on the Amendment. The problem only arises in South Staffordshire because that is the only one of the three districts that can sell the whole of its consumption in its own district. I quite appreciate some of the difficulties that have been mentioned with regard to geographical boundaries, but this is really only an example of the dangers of Government interference. It is only one of the injuries which I consider this Bill is inflicting, not only on the coal industry itself but on consumers in general. I do not take it merely from the point of view of the coalowners. The Amendment was put down on behalf of the workers. The case which has been put for the consumers is even stronger. They have set up their works and their plant so that they may have coal at the door of their works, and now, under the restrictions which are to be imposed by these provisions, it means that in many cases they will not have coal at their door but will have to go considerable distances for coal, which will have to be conveyed to their works perhaps by means of a long railway journey. The President of the Board of Trade shakes his head, but there is nothing which he has said which can combat that point of view. He admits that under this scheme, whatever the output in South Staffordshire has been up to now, there is to be a quota. If the quota is 75 per cent. or 80 per cent., or whatever it is going to be, it will affect South Staffordshire, and therefore deprive the area of 20 or 25 per cent. of its output. Thus consumers who previously have used the 20 or 25

per cent. which is cut out, will obviously, unless, owing to the increased burden which the Measure is going to place upon them, they are going to reduce the output of their factories and decrease the consumption of their coal, have to bring their coal great distances from other areas. If the Government would give us an undertaking that they would bring in a similar direction to the central council as that suggested by my right hon. Friend the Member for Hendon (Sir P. Cunliffe-Lister) and my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Barkston Ash (Colonel Lane Fox), and leave out the words "and providing for," we should be satisfied, in spite of the other issues which this Amendment raises. On the other hand, if the right hon. Gentleman adopts the attitude that he cannot accept any Amendment, we shall have to take the matter to a Division and support the Lords in the Amendment which they have made.

Question put, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

The House divided: Ayes, 266; Noes, 112.

Division No. 336.] AYES. [5.3 p.m.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Compton, Joseph Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Cove, William G. Hall, Capt. W. P. (Portsmouth, C.)
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher Cowan, D. M. Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)
Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigie M. Daggar, George Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro') Dallas, George Harbison, T. J.
Alpass, J. H. Dalton, Hugh Harbord, A.
Ammon, Charles George Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Hardie, George D.
Arnott, John Day, Harry Harris, Percy A.
Aske, Sir Robert Denman, Hon. R. D. Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon
Attlee, Clement Richard Devlin, Joseph Hastings, Dr. Somerville
Ayles, Walter Dickson, T. Haycock, A. W.
Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Dukes, C. Hayday, Arthur
Barnes, Alfred John Duncan, Charles Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)
Batey, Joseph Ede, James Chuter Henderson, Arthur, Junr, (Cardiff, S.)
Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham) Edmunds, J. E. Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)
Bellamy, Albert Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Sedwellty) Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)
Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood Elmley, Viscount Herriotts, J.
Bennett, Capt. Sir E. N. (Cardiff C.) England, Colonel A. Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)
Benson, G. Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer) Hoffman, P. C.
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale) Foot, Isaac Hollins, A.
Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret Forgan, Dr. Robert Hopkin, Daniel
Brockway, A. Fenner Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton) Horrabin, J. F.
Bromfield, William Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.) Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)
Brooke, W. George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea) Hunter, Dr. Joseph
Brothers, M. Gibbins, Joseph Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R.
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield) Gibson, H. M. (Lancs. Mossley) Isaacs, George
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire) Gill, T. H. Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)
Brown, W. J. (Wolverhampton, West) Gillett, George M. John, William (Rhondda, West)
Buchanan, G. Gossling, A. G. Johnston, Thomas
Burgess, F. G. Gould, F. Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)
Buxton, C. R. (Yorks, W. R. Elland) Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.) Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)
Cameron, A. G. Gray, Milner Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)
Cape, Thomas Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne) Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)
Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.) Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.
Chater, Daniel Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.) Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A.
Church, Major A. G. Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)
Clarke, J. S. Groves, Thomas E. Kennedy, Thomas
Cluse, W. S. Grundy, Thomas W. Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton) Kinley, J.
Knight, Holford Muff, G. Smith, H. B. Lees- (Keighley)
Lambert, Rt. Hon. George (S. Molton) Muggeridge, H. T. Smith, Tom (Pontefract)
Lang, Gordon Nathan, Major H. L. Smith, W. R. (Norwich)
Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Naylor, T. E. Snell, Harry
Lathan, G. Noel Baker, P. J. Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
Law, Albert (Bolton) Oldfield, J. R. Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)
Law, A. (Rosendale) Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston) Sorensen, R.
Lawrence, Susan Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley) Stamford, Thomas W.
Lawson, John James Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon) Stephen, Campbell
Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle) Owen, H. F. (Hereford) Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)
Leach, W. Palin, John Henry Strachey, E. J. St. Loe
Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.) Paling, Wilfrid Strauss, G. R.
Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern) Parkinson, John Alien (Wigan) Sullivan, J.
Lees, J. Perry, S. F. Sutton, J. E.
Lewis, T. (Southampton) Pethick-Lawrence, F. W. Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.)
Lloyd, C. Ellis Picton-Turbervill, Edith Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)
Longbottom, A. W. Pole, Major D. G. Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
Longden, F. Price, M. P. Thurtle, Ernest
Lowth, Thomas Quibell, D. J. K. Tillett, Ben
Lunn, William Ramsay, T. B. Wilson Tinker, John Joseph
Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Rathbone, Eleanor Tout, W. J.
MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham) Richards, R. Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles
MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw) Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring) Turner, B.
McElwee, A. Riley, Ben (Dewsbury) Vaughan, D. J.
McEntee, V. L. Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees) Viant, S. P.
MacLaren, Andrew Rosbotham, D. S. T. Walkden, A. G.
MacNeill-Weir, L. Rowson, Guy Wallace, H. W.
McShane, John James Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter Wallhead, Richard C.
Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton) Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury) Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Tudor
Mansfield, W. Salter, Dr. Alfred Watkins, F. C.
March, S. Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen) Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Marcus, M. Samuel, H. W. (Swansea, West) Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Markham, S. F. Sanders, W. S. Wellock, Wilfred
Marley, J. Sandham, E. Welsh, James (Paisley)
Mathers, George Sawyer, G. F. West, F. R.
Matters, L. W. Scott, James Westwood, Joseph
Maxton, James Scrymgeour, E. White, H. G.
Melville, Sir James Scurr, John Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Messer, Fred Sexton, James Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Middleton, G. Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston) Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Millar, J. D. Shepherd, Arthur Lewis Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Mills, J. E. Shield, George William Wilson, J. (Oldham)
Montague, Frederick Shinwell, E. Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Morley, Ralph Short, Alfred (Wednesbury) Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)
Morris, Rhys Hopkins Simmons, C. J. Wise, E. F.
Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh) Simon, E. D. (Manch'ter, Withington) Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)
Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South) Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness) Wright, W. (Rutherglen)
Morrison Robert C. (Tottenham, N.) Sinkinson, George
Mort, D. L. Sitch, Charles H. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Moses, J. J. H. Smith, Alfred (Sunderland) Mr. Hayes and Mr. William Whiteley.
Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent) Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro) King, Commodore Rt. Hon. Henry D.
Albery, Irving James Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West) Lamb, Sir J. Q.
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l., W.) Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.
Astor, Viscountess Davies, Dr. Vernon Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak)
Atkinson, C. Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.) Leighton, Major B. E. P.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley) Duckworth, G. A. V. Long, Major Eric
Balniel, Lord Eden, Captain Anthony Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)
Berry, Sir George Elliot, Major Walter E. Margesson, Captain H. D.
Betterton, Sir Henry B. Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.) Marjoribanks, E. C.
Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman Everard, W. Lindsay Meller, R. J.
Boothby, R. J. G. Falle, Sir Bertram G. Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Ferguson, Sir John Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)
Boyce, H. L. Fielden, E. B. Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld)
Briscoe, Richard George Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E. Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham) Galbraith, J. F. W. O'Connor, T. J.
Buchan, John Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)
Burton, Colonel H. W. Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)
Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Pownall, Sir Assheton
Carver, Major W. H. Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford) Purbrick, R.
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Ramsbotham, H.
Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City) Hartington, Marquess of Rawson, Sir Cooper
Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.) Haslam, Henry C. Remer, John R.
Cazalet, Captain Victor A. Henderson, Copt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley) Reynolds, Col. Sir James
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.) Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J. Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston) Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford) Salmon, Major I.
Chapman, Sir S. Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Christie, J. A. Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G. Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S. Savery, S. S.
Cobb, Sir Cyril Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Simms, Major-General J.
Colfox, Major William Philip Hurd, Percy A. Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U., Belfst)
Colville, Major D. J. Hurst, Sir Gerald B. Spender-Clay, Colonel H.
Stanley Maj. Hon. O. (W'morland) Waterhouse, Captain Charles Womersley, W. J.
Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F. Wayland, Sir William A. Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Titchfield, Major the Marquess of Wells, Sydney R. Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.
Todd, Capt. A. J. Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Turton, Robert Hugh Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl Sir Frederick Thomson and Captain
Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey) Withers, Sir John James Sir George Bowyer.
Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount

Lords Amendment: In page 3, line 38, at the end, insert: (c) for the district allocation being determined at such times and for such periods as the council think fit, so however that the council shall be required to amend the allocation during any such period if they are satisfied upon the representation of the executive board for the district that it is necessary to do so in order to meet an increased demand for coal or any class of coal;

Read a Second time.


I beg to move, as an Amendment to the Lords Amendment, in line 3, after the word "council," to insert: in fixing the allocation shall have regard to the amount and class of coal produced in each district, with a view to securing that the production, supply, and sale of each class of coal shall not be hampered or restricted, and the council. We are now about to consider a new paragraph to Sub-section (2) of the Clause which was introduced and inserted in the Bill in another place. One of the objects, I understand, was to increase the elasticity of the Central Council in making provision far allocations to individual districts. I am seeking by the words which I wish to introduce into this Amendment to increase that elasticity a little further in the interests of the export trade. I make no apology for referring to the export trade, because in all parts of the House it will be agreed that the export trade is one of the greatest assets of our country. In view of the new paragraph (c), if there were a sudden demand for a much greater amount of export coal than might be in existence at any particular moment, it would be open to the Central Committee to apply a special quota to export coal in order to meet that emergency, but subject to a proviso that the special quota which might be allowed in an emergency would be limited, the total amount of which should not exceed the district allocation. That proviso might render the whole of this Clause nugatory in the districts in regard to export coal. There might come a sudden demand in a particular district based upon orders from abroad. That district may apply for a special quota, and then the Central Council would be faced with this position, that they would like to give that district a special quota but they would have to say: "We cannot do it, because if we do we should be increasing the total of the district allocation." That would be a lamentable event. What I am asking the Government to do by the insertion of my Amendment to the Lords Amendment, is to give the Central Council such powers that, in the event of a contingency of that sort arising, it would be possible for the Council to give that particular district a special quota, which would not be limited by the district quota previously allocated, which would enable the district to carry out the orders which it had received.


I beg to second the Amendment.


I bad already anticipated the reply on this proposal in the reply which I gave to a previous Amendment, but the facts can be simply stated. The Amendment moved in another place covers the important point which my hon. Friend has in mind. The House knows that there is a standard tonnage in each colliery district, and a quota is applied within that district to the standard tonnage of each colliery, and under the Bill any class of coal, it may be export coal or coal for the iron and steel industry or for any other special class of coal, can have a 100 per cent. quota. It is true, as my hon. Friend has pointed out, that asuming there was a sudden demand for increased quantities of, say, export coal, that quota could be applied, subject always to the overriding district allocation. The Amendment which was proposed in another place provides for the district allocation being determined at such times and for such periods as the council think fit, so however that the council shall be required to amend the allocation during any such period if they are satisfied upon the representation of the executive board for the district that it is necessary to do so in order to meet an increased demand for coal or any class of coal; The effect of the Lords Amendment is to take away the overriding condition of the district allocation and to give power for its being exceeded for the time being, while the exceptional demand lasts. Accordingly, my hon. Friend will see that his case is completely covered, and on that ground it may not be necessary for him to press the Amendment to the Lords Amendment. I propose to ask the House to agree with the Lords Amendment.


If my right hon. Friend is correct in his statement, and I have no reason to doubt it, when he says that the Amendment introduced in another place takes away the overriding condition from the district allocation, my case is met, and I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment to Lords Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Motion made, and Question, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment," put, and agreed to.—[Mr. W. Graham.]

Subsequent Lords Amendment in page 5, line 22, agreed to.

  1. CLAUSE 3.—(Provision of district scheme.) 15,712 words, 2 divisions
  2. cc2245-81
  3. CLAUSE 5.—(Committees of Investigation.) 14,984 words, 2 divisions
  4. cc2281-2
  5. CLAUSE 8.—(Information obtained under Act not to be disclosed.) 211 words
  6. cc2283-97
  7. CLAUSE 11.—(Constitution of Coal Mines Reorganisation Commission.) 6,549 words, 1 division
  8. cc2297-8
  9. CLAUSE 12.—(General functions of Coal Mines Reorganisation Commission.) 37 words
  10. cc2298-317
  11. CLAUSE 13.—(Amendments of Part I of 16 and 17 Geo. 5, c. 28.) 8,241 words, 2 divisions
  12. cc2317-36
  13. CLAUSE 14.—(Temporary Amendment of 8 Edw. 7, c. 57, s. 3.) 8,157 words, 1 division
  14. c2337
  15. CLAUSE 15.—(Power to constitute Coal Mines National Industrial Board and functions thereof.) 94 words
  16. cc2337-8
  17. SCHEDULE.—(Part 11: Provisions as to Amalgamations and adjustment of Districts.) 219 words