HC Deb 27 June 1933 vol 279 cc1307-9

asked the Secretary for Mines whether he has now considered the communications from the central council of coalowners with regard to the separate allocation of inland and import quotas and the co-ordination of minimum prices; and whether he is in a position to state what legislation will be proposed to the House for the amendment of Part I of the Coal Mines Act?


asked the Secretary for Mines whether, in view of the difficulty of obtaining agreement with the coalowners to amend Part I of the Coal Mines Act, 1930, and the continued extensive inter-district competition now carried on in the inland and export markets which depresses unnecessarily the full realisation of the coal produced, the standard of living of the miners, and the volume of the coal trade, he will now state what action, if any, the Government propose taking in the matter?

The SECRETARY for MINES (Mr. Ernest Brown)

I have not yet received representations from the central council with regard to the amendment of the central scheme. I am aware of the difficulty which the coalowners are finding in reaching agreement to submit amendments of the central scheme under the Coal Mines Act. They are still endeavouring to find an acceptable solution, and it is so obviously desirable that such a difficult and complicated problem should be settled by agreement if possible that further opportunity to do so should be allowed. I am in constant touch with the position, and if the coalowners fail to agree the Government will, as already announced, be compelled to take action by introducing amending legislation.


Is the hon. Member aware that the central council of coalowners have now had over three months in which to formulate their proposals, and does he not think, in the interests of the country, that action should be taken immediately?


I am aware of that, and I am aware also that the issues are very complicated in their texture. The Government, of course, must be the judge as to the time if and when legislation proves to be necessary. If it should prove to be necessary, it will be introduced at the first practical moment.


Does the Secretary for Mines anticipate being able to make a statement to the House with regard to the proposed legislation this Session?


I have said that the Government must be the judges as to the time.


May I ask whether the Government realise that, even with the help of the Trade Agreements, there is not one single branch of the export section of the mining industry which is today holding its own?