HC Deb 20 December 1934 vol 296 cc1337-8
75. Mr. MARTIN

asked the Secretary for Mines whether he is aware that allowances amounting to as much as 6d. per ton in some cases are being made to middlemen under an agreement which stipulates that such allowance should not be passed on; and whether any case has arisen of such agreements being broken with the effect that consumers can purchase coal at less than the minimum price fixed by the district board under the terms of the Coal Mines Act, 1930?


I understand that under conditions of sale prescribed by the Durham Executive Board in accordance with the provisions of Clause 55A of the Durham Scheme, a commission of 6d. per ton is allowed to agents in respect of coal exported on condition that the allowance is not passed on. In order to ensure that the terms of the conditions of sale are faithfully adhered to, the executive board employ, as may be necessary, firms of accountants to examine the books of agents as well as those of the coalowners.


May I ask in the first place, what is the hon. Gentleman's definition of "export coal," particularly in the case of coal shipped to London from where it might or might not be sent abroad? Secondly, May I ask whether it is not too difficult for the people to whom the hon. Gentleman refers, whose function it is to inquire into evasions, to detect cases, or trace evasions, when they do examine books?


The hon. Member will understand that the new schemes operating from 1st January will make a distinction between coastwise coal and export coal. It is true there have been allegations and they are being looked into.


Does the hon. Gentleman get much help in these matters from Lord Hindley?