HC Deb 20 December 1932 vol 273 cc887-9

asked the Secretary for Mines whether he is aware that the Wemyss Coal Company will be compelled, owing to the restriction in output under the Coal Mines Act, 1930, to suspend production for several days prior to the end of the current quarter; that the company could have disposed of the coal which would have been produced during that period; and whether he is prepared, having regard to this and simi lar cases, to introduce amending legislation to obviate the recurrence of such periods of enforced idleness and loss of work for undertakings engaged in the export trade?


I understand that the Wemyss Coal Company were granted an increased standard tonnage for the the current quarter by the Scottish Executive Board. The company were not satisfied, and appealed to arbitration, but were awarded no further increase. A complaint with regard to the inadequacy of its permitted output has been lodged by one of its customers with the Scottish District Committee of Investigation set up under Section 5 of the Coal Mines Act, 1930, and I must, therefore, regard the matter as sub judice. I would remind my hon. and learned Friend that at its meeting on the 14th December the Central Council granted in full the request of the Scottish Executive Board for an additional allocation of 150,000 tons for the current quarter.


Does my hon. Friend not agree that the recurrence of such circumstances as are disclosed in this question is entirely contrary to the national interest?


I cannot debate that now, but I would point out that export coal is a class of coal within the meaning of Section 18 of the Act and it is therefore open to the Scottish Executive Board of Coal Owners, under Clauses 28 and 33 of the scheme, to give separate quotas for export coal if the need arises.


Can the hon. Gentleman say whether Scotland is only one of many districts which have sent in such cases, or whether there have been other cases?


There are many assertions, but I get very few facts.

Captain RAMSAY

Is it not a fact that it is almost impossible to differentiate between inland and export coal?


I do not agree with that statement. It is possible under the scheme, and quite simple.

Duchess of ATHOLL

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the proposals for amalgamations in Fife have caused great anxiety in a neighbouring county?


That is another issue, but I may remind the Noble Lady that I am not the responsible authority there. The Commission is an independent body; it was so willed by this House.