HC Deb 06 December 1932 vol 272 cc1403-4

asked the Secretary for Mines if his attention has been called to the fact that the quota system, and the methods of administration thereof, are causing dissatisfaction and leading to the loss of orders in the North-Eastern coal exporting area; and whether he will consider the immediate amendment of the Act in its application to the export section of the mining industry, so as to give greater freedom to coal owners and exporters in their efforts to secure business in the markets of the world?


I am aware that there has been criticism of the operation of the quota system in Northumberland, but I understand that an additional allocation for the remainder of this quarter has been granted to the district by the Central Council. No representations have been made to me, on behalf of the coal industry as a whole, to amend the system in the manner suggested by my hon. Friend.


Is the hon. Gentleman aware that his predecessor promised in June, I think it was, an inquiry into this matter, and can he tell us whether any steps have been taken to redeem that promise?


I am not aware of that promise. I am aware that he was awaiting representations from the owners, who were charged with the working of the Act, as to what action should be taken to make the operation of Part 1 more effective, and I am still awaiting those representations.


Can the hon. Gentleman say whether there have been any direct representations to the Board of Trade apart from those through the usual channels; and whether the representations have been on the score of the fixed price rather than the quota?


There have been quite a number of points put to me on all sides of this question. There are many sides to it, as the hon. Member knows. Of course, until the Central Council, which is charged by Statute with the operation of the Act, makes- up its mind as to what it wants to recommend, I shall receive no recommendation s from the industry as a whole.