Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding 137,200, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1935. for the Salaries and Expenses of the Mines Department of the Board of Trade.
§ 3.21 p.m.
§ The SECRETARY for MINES (Mr. Ernest Brown)
I think I shall be consulting the convenience of the Committee if I endeavour to be as brief as possible in discussing the multifarious subjects which come under this Vote, bearing in mind the fact that the Mines Department has already made an unusual draft on the time of Parliament in regard to legislation this Session and furthermore that we recently had an opportunity of discussing for nearly a day the health and safety side of the Department's work. Therefore I hope that hon. Members will absolve me from any charge of lack of appreciation of the gravity of the many subjects involved in this Vote, if I deal with them shortly and call special attention only to three or four outstanding points. The first thing which I ask the Committee to consider is the production of derivatives from coal and the questions of fuel treatment and fuel economy. There has been a great deal of progress made recently in the use of pulverised fuel. An experiment has been made by the Cunard Company in regard to colloidal fuel and I had the opportunity during the past year of opening the first public filling station in connection with the use of compressed gas for motor vehicles. Hon. Members will also know from recent Debates on the Measure for assisting the production of oil from coal that there has been a marked improvement in connection with production by the process of low temperature carbonisation and 946 that work on the new undertaking at Billingham, where oil is to be produced from coal by the hydrogenation process, is well up to schedule. If any hon. Member desires to ask any questions I shall be pleased to answer them but I do not want to go into detail further than to point out three things, the first is that with regard to pulverised fuel, the quantity used in powdered form last year was 4,010,000 tons, an increase of 336,000 tons on the year before. As regards colloidal fuel I would draw attention to a remark by the chairman of the Cunard Company. Commenting on the experiment carried out in one of their oceangoing boats he said:In conjunction with other important interests the question of its commercial development is being actively pursued.I can add that other concerns are also carrying out experimental work.
§ Mr. BROWN
Not at the moment. I understand that they have to consider the technical side very thoroughly in order to be able to see whether commercial developments can be made. At the moment that is all I can say on that point. With regard to compressed gas there have been interesting developments. There was a demonstration recently in Palace Yard of vehicles run by various kinds of products and derivatives of coal. There was one vehicle using compressed gas enriched with a small quantity of cresote or similar oil and I would call the attention of hon. Members who are interested in the question to the fact that far better results were obtained in this way—indeed I may say the radius obtained by the vehicle was thereby doubled. Hon. Members know that that is one of the biggest problems in connection with the use of this particular product of coal.
With regard to the low temperature carbonisation process, I can report this progress compared with last year. There are now nine plants in operation on a commercial or semi-commercial scale. Compared with 1932 the quantity of coal carbonised has increased by 95,087 tons to 318,000 tons or 42 percent. The out 947 put of smokeless fuel has increased from 163,000 tons to 222,000 tons or 36 per cent. and the yield of crude spirit has increased by 311,000 gallons to 741,000 gallons or 72 per cent. At those plants where the gas was "scrubbed" for spirit, the yield has increased from an average of 2.2 gallons per ton to 2.7 gallons. There was for some time an Air Squadron operating exclusively on low temperature carbonisation spirit with satisfaction to the Air Ministry. There are now seven squadrons flying on this spirit, that is to say 7 per cent. of the total aviation spirit consumed by the Ministry is derived from coal. The Admiralty in 1933 contracted for a bulk supply of fuel oil made by the low temperature carbonisation process and it was found satisfactory. The latest features about the hydrogenation process are as follows. Up to 13th July orders had been placed or expenditure incurred to the amount of £1,850,000 in connection with the plant at Billingham representing the employment directly and indirectly of 13,370 men. The early part of next year will, I understand see the plant operating and if I have the privilege of introducing the Estimates next year we shall be in a position to discuss this great undertaking actually in work.
May I now call the attention of the Committee to the processes with regard to economy in the use of fuel? There has been a great extension since last year in the work of cleaning, washing, grading and blending of coals. I draw attention to this matter in the early part of my speech for one reason. All these various processes which I have already mentioned are concerned with the production of derivatives and therefore with the use of more coal. On the other hand, there are these other processes which involve. fuel economy and which mean the use of less coal because a better calorific value is got out of it. That raises a problem for industry as a whole to which I would direct attention.
There are four points resulting from this. First, a demand for coal in a different form; second, a demand for coal of different grades; third, a greater demand for coal on the one hand; and, fourth, in so far as there has been fuel economy, a smaller demand. There are indications from South Staffordshire and Worcester 948 shire in the direction of a revaluing of prepared coals to which I would like to draw attention. Much progress has recently been made in the treatment of coal at washing and cleaning plants in those areas. No coal was dealt with in this way in those areas prior to 1930. In 1933 the proportion of output so treated was about 30 per cent. Of course, a much higher percentage would be shown in terms of the actual small coal which can be used for this purpose. The average selling price of all the coal raised in these districts, increased by nearly ls. per ton between 1929 and 1933. The point to which I desire to direct the attention of the industry, through this Committee, is this: scientific and technical treatment should surely bring a reward to the coal industry if it provides coal of a greater calorific value to the consumer.
We recently had a debate on welfare questions and I need only add one word on that subject. Hon. Members may desire to know the progress made with pithead baths. I have been informed that there are open and completed at the moment 145 baths provided out of the Welfare Fund and under construction 25, making a total of 170. Hon. Members will also know that, previous to the establishment of the fund, there were 32 other baths, so that at the moment we have 202 pithead baths either constructed or under construction, and the number of employes provided with baths is 248,332, nearly one-third of the men on the books of the collieries. The question of safety in mines was also the subject of debate recently, and in my opening speech I desire to call attention to only one subject, the great reform undertaken in the new regulations regarding lighting. I have heard them described by a prominent mining engineer this week as being in his judgment, the greatest reform for a generation.
I may briefly summarise the effects of the new Order, hoping it will be discussed at greater length during the Debate. The Order falls into three parts. Part I, which comes into operation on 1st September next, deals with lighting by means of safety lamps; Part II with lighting by means otherwise than by safety lamps; and Part III with lighting above ground and with the very important subject of whitewashing underground. Part II comes into operation 949 on 1st July this year and Part III into operation on 1st September this year. Part I of the Order is designed to raise the standard of lighting by means of safety lamps, and it is estimated that inside the two and a-quarter years allowed for the change-over the lamps provided under the new standard will give twice as much light as the lamps now used, and 300,000 lamps will have to be replaced. That is a very considerable reform. As regards Part II, in safety-lamp mines the use of fixed lights pro- vided by current from the electric mains has hitherto been restricted to areas not within 300 yards of the face. Part II extends this lighting, under special precautions, to roads ventilated by intake air up to 50 yards from the working face, and in other roads up to 100 yards from the working face. Part III provides for sufficient lighting on the surface where persons regularly work, and underground at shaft insets and shaft sidings; while the whitewashing will take place compulsorily at important places underground such as sidings, landings, pass-bys, off- takes, and rooms containing engines, motors, and other appliances. I agree with the mining engineer I have quoted that this Order will mark a very great step forward in the matter of under-ground lighting.
Next I have a few words to say on the conditions in the industry from the point of view of wages, overtime and hours. Last year I pointed out that there were four outstanding features on this side of the industry, namely, the continuous drop in production, the stability of prices, the stability of wages and the stability of the cost of production, especially considering that the cost of production had to be reckoned in terms of a much smaller output than formerly. I am happy to say that I have no longer to report a drop in production. I ventured to prophesy from this Box last year, speaking amid some scepticism, that we had reached bottom. Happily that prophecy has proved not only true but more than true, for by the autumn of last year production had begun to move up, as I shall show by a table of figures towards the end of my speech. With regard to the other three points the facts remain the same. The annual cash earnings in 1932 were £109 8s. 5d. and in 1933 were £110 5s. 10d., an increase of just under £1.
§ Mr. BROWN
I am coming to that. If hon. Members want the amount per shift, that information is available; but seeing that we have so short a time to-day I thought I would not give more figures than necessary of those which are available in the various statistical publications of the Department, which hon. Members have in their hands, because they know that it is not easy to make a short speech on this great Vote. As regards hours, conditions remain as before; and with regard to the cost of production, what I said last year remains true. It has been very remarkable how the cost of production has remained stable despite the lesser output up to September of last year. I wish to deal rather more fully. though not at complete length, with another subject which has occupied the attention of some Members, and that is overtime. Spasmodic complaints were made two years ago and last year about overtime.
§ Mr. BROWN
I say "spasmodic" in the sense that they were not made to me from organised bodies on a basis of evidence. Until November of last year I did not receive an official complaint from the Mineworkers' Federation. When I said they were spasmodic I did not mean to belittle the number of complaints, but only to indicate that they came from certain areas and from certain Members and were not put up as covering the whole country—not until November of last year. The point at issue was whether or not in the light of the development of machine mining, there was any need for amendment of the Act of 1908, which provides for a certain amount of overtime, known popularly as emergency work. I offered to have an examination made by skilled mining engineers in any area selected by the Mineworkers' Federation, and they decided that they would like an investigation made in Lancashire. Two mining engineers not ordinarily connected with the inspectorate—I would have the Committee notice that—or with the Mines Department, were selected to carryout this work. Their report is now before the House. I expect that hon. Members will want to analyse it in detail and therefore I will 951 reserve any remarks as to its details until my reply. I may sum up the whole of the report in one sentence, which is taken from the report. The considered view of the inspectors was:that the greater part of the overtime disclosed may reasonably be regarded as necessary for the proper and efficient working of the mines.That sums up the report in a nutshell. There are differences of opinion on the Opposition side of the House about the report. At the moment I have received no detailed criticism from representative bodies. Yesterday I received a letter from the Lancashire and Cheshire Mineworkers' Federation, in general terms. Since I have received no detailed criticism I have invited the views of the representative bodies. The report is so ably drawn up and the Schedule to it is so comprehensive and so detailed that Members will need to bring forward very great proof of some of the general statements which they make, if they desire to rebut the report. There is only one other preliminary remark, and that is upon the point, which is one of gravity, concerning deputies and the amount of overtime that has been worked by them. I propose to invite the Deputies and Firemen's Association to discuss that point with me, because that is the only serious point which has arisen from the evidence. Employment was slightly less irregular than in 1932. The average number of days lost through lack of trade was 63 in 1932, but in the first half of 1934 the number was 22 1/2. That is an improvement over the figures for the corresponding period in 1932 and 1933, and is the same as in 1928 and 1929. The workmen on the books increased from 782,400 at the end of 1932, to 793,500 at the end of March, 1933. There is, of course, a seasonal decline from March to October, but I am happy to say that the seasonal decline is less than it was a year ago. As a matter of fact, the graph in my room at the Mines Department five weeks ago showed that the actual number on the books was down to about the level of previous years. The improvement is only slight, and the figure is at the moment about 3,000 more. I know hon. Members will be asking how the figure is to be reconciled with the figures of the Ministry of Labour. The answer is quite simple. The figures are 952 arrived at upon an entirely different basis and for an entirely different purpose. For the latest Ministry of Labour figures the last week at the end of the quarter was taken, where, from lack of trade or lack of quota, there is normally a larger number of men temporarily stopped than there might be a week before, or even three days before. The figures published show that there has been a slight drop, while the figures of men employed in the mines indicate that there is nothing more than a seasonal variation.
With regard to the Convention for regulating hours of work in the coal mines, the tripartite meeting was held at Geneva in June last and was attended by employers', workers' and Government representatives from Belgium, France, Great Britain, Holland, Poland and Czechoslovakia. The meeting felt that it would not be possible to secure a simultaneous ratification of the Convention unlels certain points of difficulty felt by various countries could be met, and decided, to send to the Governing Body of the International Labour Organisation a list of five such points. On one of those points the difficulty was felt by Belgium, France and Great Britain, and on another by Belgium and Great Britain. The three remaining points were all raised by other Governments than that of Great Britain.
A word about the economics of the industry: It is sufficient to say that an analysis of all the figures in the ascertainments show an improvement last year as compared with the year before. In regard to the state of the industry, and particularly of the export trade, hon. Members will have gathered that, in the quarter ending September, 1933, an improvement began to show itself in output. I do not say that with any sense of complacency, because it is a matter of great thankfulness that, among the nations of the world and in the present state of the world demand for coal, that should be so. In view of the state of the world, hon. Members would naturally expect the improvement in home trade, especially considering the startling improvement in iron and steel, to have been greater than the improvement in export trade. I would point out to hon. Members that the downward curve of exports has not merely stopped but has begun to move up again slightly in the last six months. I will 953 trouble the Committee with a few figures in regard to that. In the year before the great depression, 1929, we exported 76,500,000 tons, including foreign bunkers. This dropped by 1932 to 53,000,000, and last year it showed 52,500,000 tons. The latest returns for the six months of 1934 compared with the same period of 1933 show an increase of 652,000 tons. That is a slight but very welcome sign of a move upwards in the export trade.
In some quarters it has been said that there has been a very heavy adverse repercussion in some districts because of the benefits that have been gained by other districts, as a result of the many trade agreements secured by the Government. I propose to analyse that. In some quarters those adverse effects have been very grossly exaggerated. There are only three important European countries exporting coal, Germany, Poland and ourselves. The international problem of markets and prices is mainly confined to Europe. It is true that the United States of America also export coal, but she sells the bulk of her surplus across her northern frontier in Canada. Certain nations of the world have developed their power to supply while demand has lessened, and it is the relationship of the European demand to the available productive capacity and not the relation between demand and production which is at once the cause and the measure of our problem. I do not think any hon. Member can speak too highly of the effect of the trade agreements. Some hon. Members may not understand how wide and how varied they are and how hard and complicated was the work put into them, not only by the Board of Trade and the Mines Department, but by all those in the technical Departments of Government and industry who devoted themselves to working out the details of the trade agreement.
Let me give the Committee some facts. With the exception of the German Agreement, which has now operated for one year, and with regard to which I propose to give some figures in a moment, none of the other agreements has operated for the full year on which we propose to estimate the results, but I will give the gains in exports within the areas of the agreements over and above the years 1931, 1932 and 1933; and I would point out to the Committee that no fair judgment can 954 be reached as to the benefit of the agreements and the negotiations which led up to them unless those years are all taken into account, for we began to gain the moment it was seen that there was a change of policy in this country. In addition to the gains in 1931, 1932, and 1933, we had an increase in these agreement markets, in the first six months of 1934, of 1,279,000 metric tons. Anyone who looks at the results on the East Coast of Scotland or the North-East Coast of England will know what a great advantage that has been to the mining industry in those areas.
The problem still remains, however, that there is also intensified competition. There are cut prices by Poland, there are cut prices by Germany, there are cut prices for coals in every market. I quite understand the views of hon. Members from South Wales, who are very properly interested in this subject, and that is why I have raised it, because I think it is of advantage that it should be discussed in the light of the information available. As regards the agreement countries and South Wales, which is particularly affected in this matter, I would point out that, during the 12 months ending in May, 1934, the exports from Bristol Channel ports to all destinations were 15,823,000 tons, as against 16,457,000 tons in the previous year. But I would also point out that this decrease was foreseen by the Mines Department before the discussion about the trade agreements began, and it was not merely foreseen, but our policy of pressing for every advantage that could he gained by agreements was communicated both to the Mining Association of Great Britain and to the coal exporters of Great Britain, and was clearly understood before the discussions began.
§ Mr. GEORGE HALL
May I ask whether the exporters in South Wales anticipated this reduction in the case of Italy and France?
§ Mr. BROWN
I do not accept the word "reduction" in that sense, and I hope to give some figures later which will put the matter in another perspective; but they certainly appreciated these facts, as did the Mines Department, which went out of its way to point out to these bodies that if by these agreements it were possible to get Polish or other coal off certain markets, there might be repercussions elsewhere. The answer was that 955 it was mudh harder for them to compete in any other markets than in the Scandinavian and Baltic markets. That was put plainly, before the discussions, not only to the Mining Association but to its constituent bodies when they came to see us.
§ Mr. G. HALL
The exporters and others in South Wales declare that whatever advantage has been gained by the North-East Coast as a result of the trade agreements has been gained as a result of a detrimental effect on the South Wales export trade.
§ Mr. BROWN
That is why I said that the result has been exaggerated in certain quarters. I hope to prove by figures and fact that that is not so. I have raised this matter because I think it is to the advantage, not merely of South Wales, but of the whole country, that the matter should be put in its proper perspective. The facts are that, as regards the agreement countries, the South Wales ports have gained slightly. During the twelve months ended in May, 1933, they exported to the agreement countries 1,728,000 tons, and in the twelve months ending May, 1934, 1,767,000 tons. Therefore, there has been a slight increase in the exports from those ports. With regard to the other problem, it is quite clear that, if Great Britain had entered upon a price cutting campaign, she could have stood the strain longer than her competitors, but we regard this as an undesirable policy. The German coal industry subsidises its coal exports to the extent of from 5s. to 7s. a ton if necessary, by a levy on output. The ability of Poland to conduct a competitive campaign is largely attributable, in the first place, to low wages; secondly, to the fact that they are content with a pithead price of 6s. per ton for their export coal, which is made good by an inland price of no less than 16s. per ton at the pithead; and, thirdly, to abnormally low railway rates—a maximum of 3s. per ton on export coal for a haul of 340 miles to the port. We believe that the only permanent solution is to be found in international agreements between producers about markets and prices. On the initiative of my Department, discussions have been commenced between the coal-owners of Great Britain and the coal-owners of Poland. The Polish coalowners 956 have visited our country, and there have been discussions on this side, and at the moment the Mining Association of Great Britain is awaiting a communication from the Polish coalowners.
With regard to the effect of the trade agreements on other British markets, as I said just now their adverse effect has been grossly exaggerated in some quarters. With regard to the French market, an agreement has been reached which assures us of our fair share of French coal imports which are subject to restrictions, and secures for us fair competition in those classes of coal which are not subject to restrictions—a most important point. This means that, as long as matters remain as at present, we secure 877,000 tons per annum more than we should have had but for the agreement, which is a much larger achievement than some critics have been inclined to concede. With regard to Poland, by far the greater part of Poland's increased exports this year have been absorbed in Belgium, Italy, and the Irish Free State. With regard to Belgium, the position is due, not so much to the effect, as is alleged, of the trade agreement, but to the virtual abandonment of the quota system. At the moment we are making representations to the Belgian Government in the interests of a fair share of the trade for our coal industry. With regard to the Irish Free State, the situation is explained, not by the trade agreements, but by conditions of which the Committee are well aware—matters of high policy which have nothing whatever to do with the trade agreements.
In the market where the issue chiefly arises, namely, that of Italy, where the imports from Germany have increased even more than the imports from Poland, the explanation has little or nothing to do with the trade agreements. The loss of South Wales in this market is attributable almost solely to the loss of orders from the State railways. I may tell the Committee that the question of a resumption of those orders is one of the subjects at present under discussion, and, if they should be resumed on the previous scale, the position of South Wales as regards exports of coal to Italy would be improved both relatively and absolutely as compared with the position in any of the last three years, 1931, 1932, or 1933. In 957 the first place, the Committee will understand that Italy's total imports of coal have themselves declined. In 1929, they amounted to 13,525,000 tons; in 1930, to 12,208,000 tons; in 1931, to 10,370,000 tons; in 1932, to 8,017,000 tons, and in 1933 to 8,790,000 tons. Therefore, Italy's total import of coal is much smaller than it was four years ago; and, whereas in 1930 the State railways purchased 1,136,844 metric tons of British coal, in 1933 they purchased none. Therefore, if they had bought as much in 1933 as they bought in 1930, South Wales exports to Italy in 1933, namely, 2,278,385 metric tons, would have been increased to 3,415,229 metric tons, or 38.9 per cent. of the total imports of 1933. I submit that these facts and figures show quite clearly that my statement was literally accurate, that those who talk in general terms about the adverse effect of trade agreements with Scandinavia, Germany and other countries have no foundation for their statements, as an analysis of the figures will show.
Let me turn, finally, to the sign of betterment which is to be found in the figures of coal output. Last year, of course, was our lowest year for many years, the figure being 1,000,000 tons less than in 1932, but it must be remembered 'that there were 3,000,000 tons less in the first half year of 1933 as against 1932, and in the second half 2,000,000 tons more, so that in the end we finished 1,000,000 tons down. The country, I think, will be interested in the figures for the four quarters beginning in July a year ago. The signs of improvement began in the quarter ending September, 1933, and they have been maintained throughout the current year. The output for those four quarters is as follows: For the quarter ending September, 1933, 47,121,000 tons, an increase of 810,500 tons over the corresponding quarter of the previous year; for the quarter ending December, 1933, 55,692,100 tons, an increase of 1,120,900 tons; for the quarter ending March, 1934, 59,668,800 tons, an increase of 3,491,900 tons over the corresponding quarter of the previous year; for the quarter ending June, 1934, 52,412,900 tons, an increase of no less than 4,297,100 tons over the corresponding period of last year. It means two things. The increase for the half year of 1934 over the half year of 1933 has been no less than 7,789,000 tons, and the in 958 crease for the four quarters has been no less than 9,720,400 tons.
That, I venture to say, is a very pleasant statement for any Minister of Mines to make after the depressing experience we have been through during successive years since the great slump began in 1930. Again, I say that I do not quote these figures with any degree of complacency, but as a measure of thankfulness. The distribution, of course, varies according to districts. Some benefit more than others, but in the result all have their share. The largest share for the first half of 1934 was Durham, the increase being 1,860,000 tons. [Interruption.] I should have thought that those living in that area would have been the first to welcome that fact.
§ Mr. BROWN
That figure of 1,860,000 tons represents an increase of 13.7 per cent. In South Wales there was an increase of 455,000 tons, or 2.6 per cent. That was the smallest of the important districts. All these figures are published in the Returns, but I have taken the largest and the smallest as giving a fair indication of the unequal distribution.
I had intended saying something about shipments abroad and home consumption, but I am afraid that I have detained the Committee too long already. [HON. MEMBERS: "Go on!"] Let me add one thing. I cannot stand at this Box at the end of this Session, which has seen a larger output of measures for the good of the coal industry than any Session in the history of the Mines Department—
§ Mr. BROWN
If any Minister of the hon. Member's party had produced a Bill making possible the greatest experiment for producing oil from coal, I can understand the kind of speech the hon. Member would have made in Durham every week-end. In this Session we have put through that Act. We have also put through the Welfare Act, a problem that was left by the Labour Ministry for the National Government to face. We have put through a Bill dealing with working facilities for metalliferous mines, and the Bill 'and Orders which we passed for the revision of the working of the Act of 1930 for 959 greater elasticity in the export trade on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the amendment, with which hon. Members opposite are so much concerned, for the coordination of minimum prices which, I believe, will be a very great reform. We have also put through that great Order for the reform of lighting in mines, together with the Petroleum (Production) Bill. All this has not been done without very intensive work on the part of the Department, and I should be lacking in my duty if I did not pay my small tribute to the Under-Secretary for Mines and the whole of the staff for their extraordinarily hard work in what, I believe, the House as a whole will admit has been a most successful year.
§ Mr. EDWARD WILLIAMS
Can the Minister of Mines inform the Committee what progress has been made in amending the Silicosis Order?
§ 4.7 p.m.
§ Mr. TINKER
I beg to move to reduce the Vote by £100.
The Minister's speech reminded me of an incident in connection with the tablet in Westminster Hall where Warren Hastings stood his trial, and where he was so overcome and impressed by the eloquence of Burke that he felt that he was guilty, though he knew all the time that he was innocent. Judging by the effect of the hon. Member's speech upon Government supporters, it would appear that whatever their doubts may have been about the mining industry, the Secretary of Mines has convinced them that all is well. We who are familiar with the industry cannot agree, and that is why this afternoon we must express our disgust with what the Government and the Minister of Mines have done in relation to the mines. In the first place, I would like to say to the hon. Member that we welcome his statement about baths. It has our generous acceptation. Anything in that movement will meet with our approval. Then what he had to say about lighting appeals to all of us. We know what infliction is caused by miners' nystagmus due to bad lighting 960 and other conditions in which the men have to work. We know that improved lighting will lessen that, and anything which leads to better conditions for the workers will receive our commendation.
Anyone who has had anything to do with mining for a lengthy period will wonder why we have kept slipping back year after year with no improvement at all. Taking the last 12 years, we find that while output has increased, owing to the improved technical skill of the miner, by as much as 25 per cent. per man shift, wages have fallen by 28 per cent., and the number of those employed by about 300,000, or nearly 30 per cent. Naturally, therefore, we cannot view the position with satisfaction, although we may be assured by various Secretaries for Mines that we must wait a little longer for an improvement. We are always told in mining Debates that the mining position is going to be better, and the Secretary for Mines has now given some figures to show the improvement. I rather doubt it. Last year, in quoting the 1932 figures, he said the output was 21.99 cwts. per man shift, and the earnings 9s. 2d. per man shift, or 42s. per week. I have taken some trouble to go through the figures. The last return I could get is for the March quarter. The output per man shift was 23.3 cwt., an increase of 1 1/3 cwt., whereas the wages had fallen from 9s. 2d. in 1932, to 9s. 1.79d. in the first quarter this year—a slight drop, but it shows the tendency of wages to fall. There has been a gradual increase of output, but a gradual fall in wages. When is this increased output to be recognised and better wages paid to the workers?
§ Mr. TINKER
The things are different. I want to deal with the wages. The Secretary for Mines said that there had been an increase to £110 per annum over 1932. Granting the increase, can anyone look with complacency on a figure of £110 per annum to a worker to pay for rent and household necessities? It has to be remembered that £110 is the outside figure given by the Secretary for Mines. Surely it will be recognised here that, granting those figures to be accurate, we 961 cannot rest with a wage like that. Now as to the figures given about the number of workmen employed. I have them here. They have gone down in the March quarter to 751,000, which is much below the figure given by the Secretary for Mines. He gave the figures for 1932 as 802,000, and then, to help himself out of a difficulty, he said that in the June quarter last year it had fallen to 768,000—a record low figure. This year the number has fallen to 751,000 for the March quarter. I want the hon. Gentleman, when he replies, to deal with this figure. Therefore, we cannot accept what the Secretary for Mines says about the position in the mines as to the wages, hours and things of that kind, and we must urge what we think ought to be done.
There is a point upon which I wish to touch. From time to time I have brought forward the question of deep mine working, and I expected the Secretary for Mines to refer to the point this afternoon, because he would have in his mind the fact that I intended to raise it. From time to time I have been trying to point out to the House the conditions in which many of our people are working. I have given an example in my own constituency of a mine where they have been getting to a depth of over 4,000 feet and the conditions there are deplorable. The temperature given by the Secretary for Mines the other week showed as much as 104 to 106. I put it to hon. Members who are suffering under the intense heat that we are having, that you can go through the Lobbies of this House and find men or women with hardly enough energy to carry on. You can say to them, "How are you feeling?" and the reply is, "I do not seem to have any energy at all." Let hon. Members imagine themselves down in a mine at a temperature of from 104 to 106 degrees, where men have to get a living and slave to get it, and they will realise what it means to those people.
I am told that a week last Friday a certain number of men and women from this House went to inspect a mine in North East Derbyshire. I was invited to go, and I would have gone had I been able, but I asked one of the Members, "How did you feel?" He said, "Not so very well. The mine was 600 yards deep, and we were provided with overalls, but some of the deputation did not trouble to take off some of their garments, and the results seemed to be 962 rather funny when they got back." One was a lady. All credit to her for going to see the mine, because it is only in that way that you can get to know the actual conditions, but I understand that the lady, brave as she was, had rather a hard time, and had to be attended to to be brought back to normal.
I happened to be the hon. Member concerned, and I do not in the least mind the hon. Member giving a very vivid description of our excursion underground, but, as a matter of fact, as the hon. Member was not there, he cannot possibly tell in what frightfully good spirits everybody came up from the mine. I must dispute his statement that I had to be brought back to normal. If I have the good luck to be called in this Debate, I will give my story to set against the hon. Member's. At the same time, I agree about the conditions when you get very far underground, far below where we were last Friday.
§ Mr. TINKER
I may have overdrawn the picture, and I hope the hon. Lady has an opportunity of giving her version during the Debate, but I am not saying this in any light-hearted spirit. I went down the Parsonage Colliery, Leigh, in October, 1933. I am one of those who try to keep physically fit, but when I returned I was more exhausted than ever I had been in my life before. I was thoroughly done up, and I can quite understand anyone who goes down in such a mine feeling bad. I would like many hon. Members to take an opportunity of going down one of these mines to see for themselves. This is a, modern mine that these ladies and gentlemen went down, well ventilated, and, of course, the deputy would be prepared for them when he knew that a deputation was coming, but when you get down twice as deep as that, and you know the difficulties of ventilation and what it will mean, you can realise the position of the miners who have to work down there. My object is to arrest the attention of the Committee and of the Mines Department in the hope that this matter will be dealt with. These mines are going deeper and deeper, and we have got to draw attention to it, so that something shall be done in this connection. I am not blaming the management, who try to combat all the difficulties that they meet, but you can arrive at a time when 963 it is impossible for men to work with that degree of comfort to which we claim every British workman is entitled; and when we arrive at that point, whatever the economic factors may be, it is time to step in and say, "No farther shall this mine go." They have been described as the hell pits of civilisation, but I should say they were more like hell furnaces when I was down. Therefore, I hope the Secretary for Mines will impress upon his subordinates to keep a close watch on this matter.
I want to turn to the question of overtime. We have tried to bring this to the notice of the Government from time to time, so as to have the matter attended to. The report which has been issued states:Representations have from. time to time been made to the Secretary for Mines to the effect that overtime was being extensively and habitually worked.The hon. Gentleman admits that, and he has had a report from the Mineworkers' Federation of Great Britain. We appointed a deputation to meet the Secretary for Mines, because we realised that this was a big thing that we were attempting, and we wanted a thorough examination of the matter from both sides, so that whatever the findings might be, whichever side was hit the hardest, there could be no complaint that they had not had a chance of putting their case. We met the Secretary for Mines, and he quite openly said, "What do you suggest?" We suggested that for every section of the coalfield the Department should consult with the miners' agents, who are paid by the men to look after the grievances of the men and to meet the employers, who always receive them. We have made a number of complaints about overtime, and these complaints have passed through the miners' agents, because we have to recognise that when men working in the pits complain to the management about overtime, it may be said that nothing will happen to them, but we know only too well what does happen to them. At the moment nothing may happen, but before very long a man who has complained is told by someone that he had better keep his mouth shut, or it will not be very pleasant for him, so we get our complaints through the miners' agents, who will not give a man 964 away, knowing what will happen to him if they do.
We therefore suggested to the Secretary for Mines that when his inspector went down he should consult with the miners' agent for the district which was being examined, and we could put our point of view before him and, if necessary, attend at the pits to help in the investigation. I thought that that was going to be done, as the suggestion was well received by the Secretary for Mines, but later he told us he could not do it. I do not know what were the reasons for that decision, but they proceeded without our side of the case being put. The men appointed by the Secretary for Mines went to examine a dispute in a case where the employers said they were carrying out the Act of Parliament, and we said they were not. They only put evidence from one side, the employers' side, and does anyone imagine that that is satisfactory? We make a complaint, and we are not called in at the examination. It is left to one side only, and that is not at all satisfactory to us.
I will turn to the appendix to this report, where we find that the examination commenced on the 14th February, and the deputation went down to the collieries and examined the time books, or the eight-hours books in which overtime has to be entered, for the six weeks prior to the 17th February. They examined a pit where we had been complaining of overtime being worked and where we said the time books were not kept properly. They went dawn and examined the time books from the 17th February backwards for six weeks, and they reported that they had examined 120 collieries and that 16 of them had no overtime worked at all; and in their comments in not one case could it be said, from the employers' point of view, that the Act of Parliament had been broken. Does that not convey to anybody that something must be wrong? Surely, in a survey of 120 collieries, there must have been one or two at the least where a breach of the Act was found, but in their survey not one could they find, and they go on to say—and this is an unbiased examination—The results of the inquiry indicate that, at any rate so far as Lancashire is concerned, apprehensions that the law in regard to overtime is being deliberately and systematically violated are without foundation.965 They say lower down:No evidence is forthcoming from this inquiry which points to the necessity for amendment of the Act of 1908 in regard to overtime.Of course, there will not be any evidence from the employers' side. The hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Slater) is a colliery owner, and when the Secretary for Mines read out this report he said, "Hear, hear!" That is an indication of the mentality of the coal owners' side and, too, of the mentality of many of the inspectors, who have in their minds the idea that if work can be found for workmen and they win earn £110 a year, with a chance of working overtime, they should take the opportunity. That may be right from their point of view, but it is not right from our point of view, and, therefore, we say that this inquiry is altogether invalid, because only one side had a chance of stating their views.
With regard to consultation with checkweighmen, who are appointed by the workmen, we are told in the report that "the checkweighmen were personally consulted," and generally did not express any dissatisfaction. It seems to me that the whole thing was slipshod all the way through. Then they go on to say, in order to justify their action, thatat most of the mines, however, the Special Inspectors were voluntarily supplied by the management with records of the total number of shifts paid for each week during the period of the investigation, and these records, with very few exceptions, proved closely comparable with the number of shifts entered in the time registers.Again the employers' side only ! Imagine those men giving anything to indict themselves. It would be asking too much to expect that. We are asked to accept this report to-day and to believe that the Mines Department have done their very best to find out whether overtime is being worked. Instances have happened since. One was an accident where a number of men were killed, and at the coroner's inquiry it 'was proved that a boy who lost his life in that disaster had gone down the pit at nine on the Sunday night. It was a seven and a half hours shift and the accident happened at 6.30 the following morning. This is one of the pits that would be referred to as right and proper when the investigation took place. I wonder whether an entry was made in the book about this boy being down at that time? 966 The facts only came out in the sworn evidence at the inquiry. I have another instance of a man being killed. It is only in these cases that we are able to get evidence of what has actually happened. It causes us to wonder whether these things are examined as closely as they should be. The manager gave evidence in this case. The report states:The overtime books of the mine had recently been examined by special inspectors, and they had told him that overtime in that pit was very satisfactory. He thought the jab would have been completed by about five or six o'clock. He considered this was an emergency.What is the job? The job is in the morning shift on one day getting ready for the next day, although the shift could have been ended and further men brought in at the end of seven and a half hours. They carried on until six o'clock at night, when the fatal accident happened. The mine manager said in evidence, and he is backed up by the recent inquiry, that overtime is perfectly satisfactory and that he can carry on. The coroner when he heard the evidence made this remark:I am bound to say that it came as a shock to me to know that men are allowed to work underground at the coal face for 12 hours a day with only a break of half an hour. I am not a collier. I am in an office, and my staff; work from nine in the morning till six at night, with an interval of one and a half hours in the middle of the day, and they consider this very hard work.You have an instance here of a colliery that is being complimented on its record regarding overtime, where, shortly after an inquiry is held about an accident, the manager hides himself behind that inquiry. It is only when we get cases like that that we can bring direct evidence to the Mines Inspector as to what has actually happened. When that examination was made would it not have suited everyone, if the Mines Act was to be fully observed, to have had a complete inquiry and to have given our side a chance of stating its case? I thought we had arrived at a time when the spirit of co-operation meant something. Surely the miners are an important body, and no one can say that they are an unreasonable body. All we want to do is to find out whether overtime is excessive, whether it is required, and whether or not amending legislation should be brought forward. Instead of that, time 967 and Government money are spent in a futile inquiry which cannot satisfy our side. So this afternoon we lodge our protest against this method of inquiry. We hope that the Minister will continue this investigation and take some other part of the country. I hope he will go to Scotland.
§ Mr. TINKER
I accept that challenge. When that inquiry is made at least our side ought to be represented. That is all we ask for. We make our case to-day on those grounds. We are not satisfied with the report from Lancashire. We protest, in the hope that the Secretary for Mines will pursue these inquiries, that he will take some other part of the country, that he will recognise that we have a voice in this matter, that we represent the men's interests, and that we are anxious that the thing shall be carried out properly. If he will do that, I can assure him that we shall be very glad indeed. If after the inquiry we are not able to prove our case, we shall accept the position. Until the Minister does that we shall remain heartily dissatisfied with what has happened and cannot agree to it.
§ Lord BALNIEL
I would refer to only one point in the speech of the hon. Member for Leigh (Mr.Tinker), and that is the point about working in deep and hot mines. It is not the first time that the hon. Member has raised the point, but I think that on this occasion, as previously, he has been guilty of some exaggeration. Admittedly it is an extremely difficult question; admittedly the pit is very hot, but, when the hon. Gentleman talks about slave conditions, and a "Hell Pit," he is really overstepping the mark. If that were not so, I cannot help feeling that the management would have received complaints from the workpeople. No complaints have been received. If the facts were as has been stated and the conditions as bad as the hon. Member said, there would have been complaints quite rightly, and many of them. It is not a question of the depth of a mine or the temperature of a mine that matters. Hon. Members opposite know that the important thing from the point of view of the comfort of those working under 968 ground is not either of those things, but is the difference between the wet bulb and the dry bulb temperature readings. I can show hon. Members who disagree with me a mine of only 1,500 feet depth, where the wet bulb temperature is 80 and the dry bulb 82, where the difference is the very small and much too small difference of only 2 degrees. In that mine the conditions are far more distressing than in the mine to which the hon. Member referred. In the mine to which he referred, during a visit which he paid to it the readings of the two bulbs were taken. The dry bulb was 100.5, admittedly high, and the wet bulb was 78, leaving a very large and satisfactory difference of 22.7, and it was this large and satisfactory difference which gave the hon. Member a sense of comparative comfort and coolness, and enabled him, when he was asked to guess the teperature, to understate it by 13 degrees.
§ Lord BALNIEL
When the hon. Member visited the pit he and his friends were asked to estimate the temperature, and the careful management, who treat as pearls anything that falls from the lips of Members of Parliament, treasured his statement, and reported as a matter of interest that the hon. Member had under-estimated the dry bulb temperature by 13 degrees. That is a fact. The hon. Member agrees with it. What I mean is that the difference between the bulbs is a very important and very material factor, far more important that the actual depth of the pit or than the actual dry bulb temperature. The conditions are far more satisfactory in cases where there is a large difference between the two, whatever the temperature may be, than in cases where the difference as very small.
§ Mr.DAVID DAVIES
Does the noble Lord suggest that there was a difference of 22 degrees between the wet and dry bulb?
§ Lord BALNIEL
Yes, I gave the figures, 100.5 and 78, which is almost the ideal difference. I do not suggest that the mine referred to is not very hot. When the hon. Gentleman did it the honour of paying it a visit, he expressed himself as being entirely satisfied with 969 and favourably surprised at everything he saw. He complimented and has since in this House complimented the management on all that it has done to improve the conditions by bringing currents of air to the coal face, by modem ventilation, and by such additional methods as riding the men in, etc. I cannot help being surprised that the hon. Gentleman should wish to raise this point in the House of Commons. If he had suggestions to make why did he not go to the Minister and make them? If he had suggestion to make for the improvement of the mines, why did not he go to the management and say, "I believe that here I can help. If you took my advice in this you would do good." The management would be only too willing to receive the hon. Gentleman at any time. I only regret that he has not been. What can be done in this ease? The hon. Gentleman knows what.has been done. Infinite trouble and care have been taken and he has paid his tribute to it. I do not, think that anything more can be done considerably to reduce the temperature. Modern science does not know the way.
§ Mr. TINKER
I agree that they are doing all they can. The point of difference between us is that if there arises a point beyond which it is impossible for human endurance to work, what does the hon. Lord suggest should be done?
§ Lord BALNIEL
Certainly, that point has not been reached, but if it is a question like that, if human endurance cannot go on, the man obviously cannot work. On this point, we have had read part of a document by Professor Haldane which seemed to me to be extraordinarily interesting. Owing to the exigencies of Debate the document was not read fully. If it is as important a document as I imagine perhaps the hon. Gentleman can read it later in the Debate. It is such an important point that I think that would really please the committee, if it could be done. But the hon. Member must remember this: If the temperature cannot be reduced what is he going to do? Is he going to limit the depth at which a mine may be worked? That is useless because the depth is not the important factor. Is he going to limit the temperature at which work is permissible? If he is going to limit the depth the Arley seam will, of course, immediately close down. Above ground 970 there are 100 men working, and below ground 560 men, so that if you close down the Arley seam you put straight out of work some 650 men, who would far rather work there than go on the dole.
The Arley seam in this mine, as the hon. Member knows, is one of the great seams of the district. The Arley seam carries Parsonage. The hon. Member knows enough to understand that Parsonage is not going to work if the Arley is closed down. Does he think that the Haigh Yard is enough to carry Parsonage? If you close this lower seam you will close down the whole pit and some 1,140 men will ultimately be thrown out of work. I do not think that is worth it. It is not a derelict pit, but a pit with a great future which is developing every day and reaching new coal. It is a pit which will last a great deal longer than the lifetime of any hon. Gentleman in this Committee. It is a great pit which gives employment to a large district which the hon. Gentleman represents, and I do not think he is doing his constituents justice or good service by bringing these things forward in this way. I hope that in future he will be so kind as to bring these things to the attention of the management or to the Minister, both of whom, if I may say so without offence, are more competent to deal with them than hon. Members in the House.
I should like to congratulate the Minister on the admirable survey which he has given us of the coal industry in this country. I believe that supporters of the National Government, as well as some others, feel that we are through the worst period of our depression and that our great coal industry will now be on the up-grade rather than on the down-grade. As a. Member of the North-East Coast, I think that I may best serve the interests of the Committee if I relate what I believe to be the real merits of the trade agreements. It is always difficult, in a, Debate of this kind when so many factors confuse the issue, to pick out within the reasonable confines of a Parliamentary speech one or two special and specific points. I think that each of us would like to ask questions in relation to the new policy of trade agreements, and to ascertain, when there has been a detailed 971 analysis of a district which has or ought to have benefited as the result of the negotiations, what the actual benefit has been.
I want to relate the trade agreements as negotiated with the Scandinavian countries to the district which I have the honour to represent, in respect of three points. The first point is in relation to quantity. I think that hon. Gentelemen above the Gangway will agree that, if we are to benefit the coal industry from the point of view of the miners, as well as from the point of view of the industry and the nation, quantity does enter in the picture. The chief negotiations for trade agreements have been with the Scandinavian and Baltic countries. Taking the first six months of appropriate years, the amount of coal which we exported from the North-East Coast to these countries in 1931 amounted to 847,000 tons. In 1932 it rose to 1,124,000 tons; in 1933 to 1,514,000; in 1934 to 1,900,000 tons. The later is an estimated figure which has not yet been confirmed by figures issued by the Mines Department. Those figures are an indication that quantity has benefited, at any rate in one specific district.
The second point to which I should like to draw attention is with regard to stabilised prices. It is no use selling millions of tons of coal if we do not sell them at an economic price. One of the great difficulties over the past few years in the coal industry of this country is that, owing to the action of other countries, to the economic world position, and to the world trade depression, the three greatest exporting countries have been engaged upon a ruthless price-cutting war. I would say to hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway that it is as essential in the interests of miners' wages as it is in the interests of the coal industry as a whole that we should have stabilised prices. The advantage of trade agreements is that if we have to export an ascertained amount of coal to a given country at a stabilised price we cut out ruthless competition between one country and another. I think it would be wise for a moment to take stock of the general situation with regard to Polish competition. I do not want to be drawn into any controversial issue, but I think that the history of the strides that Poland 972 has made as an exporting country of coal has dated from the time when she was assisted by the long drawn-out coal dispute in this country in 1926 to establish herself as an exporting country of first class predominance. During that long period of stoppage in this country, lasting very nearly nine months, Poland was able to place in her pits first-class up-to-date machinery, and she was able to establish contracts with markets which had always been solely the markets of Great Britain. It has taken us very nearly eight years to re-establish our position in those markets. I feel rather strongly that we are indeed indebted to the Minister of Mines and to the policy of the National Government in negotiating trade agreements, that we have at last been able to get back and to reestablish ourselves in relation to coal in those places where Poland had made tremendous inroads on our trade.
The third matter I want to mention is the establishment of international agreements. In his admirable survey the Minister of Mines pointed out that it would be very advisable for the three great exporting countries to sit down and discuss the allocation of world markets. I entirely agree. One of the difficulties has been that until this moment there has been no basis of general allocation, and one of the favourable results of the trade agreements is that we have a basis on which to work in relation to the markets which may ultimately be regarded as the markets of Great Britain. I know that, in taking this line and whole-heartedly supporting trade agreements, I lay myself open to criticism from the districts which have not yet benefited from the commercial negotiations. I would, however, like to point this out to the representatives of those districts which have not yet found any benefit from these agreements. It is impossible to enter upon revolutionary changes in policy so far as coal is concerned—I think that that is the right way of regarding the trade agreements—real revolutionary changes in the policy of selling coal, of finding markets and of international agreements which do away with ruthless price-cutting, without in due course finding that other districts which have not, up to date, been as fortunate as the North-East Coast will receive benefit.
Generally speaking, the industrial districts are still supporting the National 973 Government, though the general policy of the Government in altering our fiscal system has not yet brought to those districts the benefits which have accrued to what we may term the home districts. we cannot expect that any tremendous revolutionary change of policy throughout the country in all branches of trade will bring benefit to every part of the country at the same time. I think, therefore, I am right in submitting that when we look at the detailed analysis of the benefits of each of the agreements as between district and country, we can hope that in future, when we have been able to enter into agreements with such countries as Italy and France and the other countries which are negotiating with us, the whole of the coal trade and the whole of Great Britain will have the same benefits as we have had on the North-East Coast.
There is another point which I should like to make in regard to wages. I hope that I have carried with me hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway on the questions of price and quantity of exports. I know how very low wages are in Northumberland and Durham, but surely the best way to help the miners in the individual collieries in which they work is to make for prosperity in the coal trade as a whole. There is no other industry that benefits more from wages agreements between owners and workers if there is a restoration of prosperity. We know perfectly well, if there is real prosperity in the coal exporting districts, that, by virtue of the agreements on wages between the owners and miners, the miners obtain their fair share in better wages. I know that a point may be raised by some of my hon. Friends in regard to the fact that an enormous debt is accruing against the miners on their monthly ascertainment forms.
When for the first time since the present form of agreement was entered into in 1921 in Northumberland the monthly ascertainments have shown that it was possible to pay an increase over the 40 per cent. which is paid on the basic wage under the terms of the agreement—I feel that I ought to say this because I fight the coalowners as well as the miners' leaders when I think it necessary, and where I think the owners do a good turn they are as much entitled to credit as when the miners' leaders do one—when for the first time the coal trade showed a 974 profit, the owners might, under the terms of their agreement, have reasonably said, "We are going to use this additional profit in order to wipe off some of the debt which has accumulated against the owners." The Northumberland owners, however, divided that additional profit equally between the men and the owners. The point I want particularly to emphasise is that, so far as the coal trade is concerned, we are all in it more than people engaged in any other industry, because any profits which are obtained in the iron and steel industry, or in shipbuilding or ship-repairing, or in engineering, must be the basis of negotiations between the men's side and the employers' side before there can be an increase of wages.
I have never been able to understand, unless one goes back to very old history when a real attempt was made to force nationalisation on the country, why the miners' leaders should make it their business to prevent prosperity returning to the industry. I do not want to be drawn into a controversial issue, or I might refer to what a leader of the Miners' Federation, the late Mr. A. J. Cook, said in "The Miner's Next step," but that policy certainly had an unsettling effect on the industry. I believe that the miners' leaders are now more moderate, and that with the policy initiated by the National Government in entering into these trade agreements a new spirit has come over the industry. If the National Government, the coal-owners and the Miners' Federation will work together for the restoration of the prosperity of the industry, it will be a real benefit to the miners and to the nation, and will give a reasonable profit to those who have their capital in the industry. That, I believe, is the result at which we ought to aim, and I feel it will be the result of the policy so admirably expounded by the Minister of Mines this afternoon.
§ Mr. DUNCAN GRAHAM
The hon. Lady who has just sat down, if she had been a miner's daughter or a miner's wife, would have known a little more about the difficulties of the industry than she showed in her speech. I am not surprised that she should congratulate the Minister of Mines on what she described as his admirable speech in 975 introducing this Debate. There is no reason why she should not congratulate him, for he congratulated himself and seemed to be very pleased with the progress made. He compared the conditions to-day with those of a, few years ago all to the advantage of himself and the Department over which he presides. I should like to put this to the Minister of Mines. The Miners' Federation is meeting this week at Edinburgh. If it had been a meeting of the colliery owners or managers, or of the Mining Association generally, there would have been no hesitation on the part of the Minister of Mines in attending that meeting and delivering a speech. Is there any reason why he should not attend the Miners' Federation Conference?
§ Mr. GRAHAM
I have noticed the reports of the statements of the Minister. It appears he was invited as a friend. If he came to the federation, we should not look on him as a friend.
§ Mr. GRAHAM
Why not ask them to invite the right hon. Gentleman and see if they refuse? The unfortunate feature of all these discussions on the mining Vote where miners' questions are raised is the assumption generally held by Members on the other side of the House, mostly Tories, that 100 per cent. of the managers and 100 per cent. of the employers are honest, religious individuals. If they are Scotsmen, they go to the Kirk twice on Sunday and, if they are members of other bodies in England, Methodists or Wesleyans, I suppose they have meetings during the week as well. It is assumed that they are honest, and it is assumed that we are dishonest. There is no question about that. If I 976 make a statement to the hon. Member, he will not accept it as true, but he will take the word of the employers, and that runs through every Department in this House. It is nearly four years ago that I was one of a deputation that met at the hon. Member's Department. He was not the Minister then, but we saw Mr. Shinwell. We raised the question of overtime and Sunday work. We were told that we had to wait until a certain decision in a certain court in Scotland had been overruled. If it were not overruled, there was an assumed promise that a Bill would be introduced to deal with the question of overtime and breaches of the Mines Act. There is no suggestion of that being carried out although it is four years since that meeting was held.
I would prefer to be in a position to congratulate the Minister. I do not blame him, and nobody on our side blames him, for the evil condition in which the mining industry finds itself to-day, whether from the point of view of employment, wages, or working conditions. It is all very well for those who have never seen the miners' places or done any work in the mines to get up and make more or less academic speeches on the conditions in which they are supposed to be living and working. The hard fact is that during the last 10 years there has been a very considerable revolution in the mining industry to the advantage of the country and to the detriment of the miner. The hon. Gentleman was giving figures dealing with aspects of the subject that he referred to in his speech. He did not tell us the difference between the output by manual labour and by machine labour during the last 10 years. There is no industry in this country, I believe, where more inroads have been made by scientists. The hon. Gentleman gave some figures. I will give some too. In 1921 the output from British coalfields produced by machine—the machine-cut coal—was 23,039,705 tons; in 1932, the last year for which we have any return, the machine-cut coal production was 80,285,631 tons. That is an increase of 57,245,926 tons or fully 248 per cent. That is for the whole country, but I have the figures here for each of the districts, and there are some of them, giving the last 11 years, where the production has increased by over 800 per cent. I want to ask the Minister and 977 his Department what they are thinking about in regard to this particular change that has been brought about and is being intensified, so far as is humanly possible, in the various districts.
The hon. Lady the Member for Wallsend (Miss Ward) referred to the very friendly relations between employers and men in Durham and Northumberland and the good way the employers treated the men. That is the poorest paid area in Britain, and the increase in machine-cut coal is 535 per cent. There has been a corresponding reduction in the number of persons employed. Not 500 per cent. certainly, but a very considerable reduction in the number of persons in each of these counties. There has not been a single penny put on the men's wages. If conditions go on as they are to-day, we shall very soon have no miners left. It will be an ordinary labourer's job, following the machine; the skilled work of the miner is largely disappearing. I can carry my memory back over a fairly long period now in the mining industry—over 50 years—to a time when there was no regulation of output, wages or hours. We worked from daylight to dark, or rather we were always in the dark, starting about four in the morning and working until five or six in the afternoon. Conditions were then considered to be bad, and we imagined in those days that, if we could get the hours reduced to eight, the conditions would be heavenly. We had them reduced to seven and a-half, and, if I were called to go back to work, I would rather work under the conditions of 50 years ago than those of to-day. The Department boasts that it has reduced the accidents. As a matter of fact it has increased the means by which accidents can happen. Then there was no electric machinery and no coal-cutting machinery. There have been various other devices introduced in the last few years in the collieries to which I am mainly referring by which accidents are increasing and likely to increase. One of the grievances is that we are the only industry where the men have to pay for their light. The wages agreement is not so good as my hon. Friend imagines it to be. It is very good as far as the employer is concerned, but not so good for the members of the mining occupation in the various districts that compose that great coalfield. 978 The Noble Lord the Member for Lonsdale (Lord Balniel) rather twitted the hon. Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker) for exaggerating a point that he made in regard to the temperature of the deep pits. It would be worth the while of those interested in mining affairs to look at the Samuel Commission Report, where they will find a table showing the depth of the various pits and the amount of coal produced from them. There are two things that are absolutely essential if you wish to give anything like satisfaction to the miner. There should be a rigid fixed working day, a maximum beyond which he should not be asked to go, and a shorter working day for the men employed in deep mines. No, matter what the Noble Lord may say, there is a difference between 102° and 78°. He put his case in a very gentlemanly way, as we should expect from one who has some knowledge of mining conditions. If a man is working under abnormal conditions in my own county, and they are working wet or the ventilation is bad, the manager generally agrees to allow anything from 6d. to a 1s. a day additional. That is not the way to pay men who are working in conditions such as I am suggesting. When the temperature reaches a certain point the working time should be reduced. I should say that a day of five or six hours in the mines referred to in the Samuel Commission Report is quite long enough. It would be worth while the Department considering that aspect of the matter and trying to come to some arrangement with the employers, and with the miners as well, with a view to reaching an understanding for a reduction of working time in these pits rather than to pay 6d. or a 1s. more.
May I say a few words with regard to the overtime question. If you put on 20 theoretical inspectors, it will not convince me that there are not breaches of the Mines Act, not committed by the managers of their own free will, but because they are very often compelled to do it or lose their job. The manager has to compete with men who are looking for his job, working under him in the same pit, and, if he is to keep his job, he has to do what the employers tell him. The employer in many cases nowadays knows absolutely nothing about the mine. He is the chairman of a big joint stock company, and he depends upon the management. He tells the manager what the 979 cost is to be, and the manager has to cut his cloth according to his purse. If the Department would consider the situation of the management from that standpoint, it would lead to an improvement greater than any that was in his mind when he was congratulating himself on the advantages that had resulted from the last year's working of the Department. In some of the pits our men are working on Sundays drawing coal. I believe there are some decent men among the managers and the owners. There are good and bad. I believe there are something like 5 per cent. who should be in prison. A black sheep is always seen much more easily than a white.
There is no doubt in the minds of those who advise the miners in my county that there is a continued deliberate breach of the Mines Act so far as working time is concerned. If there were a general inquiry, as there ought to be, and as we expected there would have been, the Ministry should make their inquiry in Scotland. Four out of every five tons of coal in Lanark are produced by machinery. I am not saying that the managers are breaking the law deliberately. They are being forced because of conditions over which to a large extent they have no control, but they ought to be compelled to observe the law. The time has come when they should get rid of the emergency Section. That Section means that men can be working over the time in every pit in the country. If you want to have anything like reasonable acceptance on the part of the miners of the policy that you are pursuing, you will have to treat them very differently so far as working time is concerned from the way they have been treated up to the present. My information is that even a question put in the House of Commons has, to a large extent, had the desired effect.
The Minister himself tells me that I have not sufficient facts. I see the men coming from the pits every Sunday afternoon, men who I know are working at the coal face. They come to me. I do not say they all tell an absolutely accurate story, but we get no larger percentage of dishonest men than there are among the managers. The Ministry is not to take the words of the managers as 980 being absolutely true any more than the word of the men. If you make an inquiry in the three principal districts—Scotland, Yorkshire and Nottingham—you will find very good reason to justify the complaints that we have made and to induce the Minister to abandon the complacent attitude that he has adopted with regard to this report. This is not a satisfactory report. It is not correct to say that these inspectors gave an absolutely fair report, but there is not a single inspector who does not draw attention to the fact that there is an unreasonable amount of overtime being worked.
I hope the hon. Gentleman will take to heart the criticisms that are being made even by those who have not the academic knowledge of the industry that a number of us have who have learnt by bitter experience what the conditions really are and can understand quite clearly what the men mean when they tell us the stories that they do with regard to the conditions obtaining. I have been asked to intimate to the Minister in regard to his statement as to the position of the export trade that we propose to raise that question on the Board of Trade Vote.
I hope the Minister will not pay too much attention to the kindly words that will be spoken from every other part of the House than this about his report, but will pay some little regard to our statements and will endeavour to satisfy us, if it be at all possible, on this question of working time. Nothing fires the imagination of the miner more than a shorter working day, and there is nothing on which he feels more bitter than the Attempts that are continually being made to compel him to work longer than his working time. If you can find ways and means of settling that difficulty, the question of wages will be dealt with in the usual way. We believe in peace and war. We prefer peace, but we are not afraid to face war. Once you get stability in the industry, wage conditions will have to be dealt with. I listened yesterday to the Minister of Agriculture and the Under-Secretary for Scotland advocating a ca'canny policy in regard to agriculture. Ten years ago I advocated a ca'canny policy with regard to mining, and was denounced all over the country for it. I am a miner and not a statesman, but the statesmen are now adopting the point of 981 view that I held, then. I believe in regulating output. I believe in the output and work of men engaged in agriculture or any other industry being regulated to such an extent as to make it possible for the men to receive a reasonable wage in order to enable them to live a decent and comfortable life. That is the only thing worth living and fighting for 'as far as we Members on the Committee are concerned. We are anxious that the Mines Department should bend itself to the task of trying to bring improvement into the mining industry, whether they are opposed by employers or by anybody else. We ask them to set their faces determinedly against opposition. After this long period of depression from which the miners have suffered—more than 10 years—the time has come when the Mines Department at least should make certain that the working time should be reduced to a, considerable extent.
I do not think that it is necessary for me to deal with all the points which have been raised by the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. D. Graham), as I think that the Secretary for Mines is able to deal with them quite satisfactorily. There are, however, two or three points to which I wish to refer. The hon. Member referred to the conditions in regard to machine mining being worse than was the case 10 years ago, and pointed out that from four to five hours per day were a sufficiently long period during which to work in pits that are very hot. But there is another side of the question, the economic side, which cannot possibly be ignored. If we had riot machine mining in this country to-day, I believe that we should have not more than half the number of men working in the pits. The machine mining has made it possible for us to compete with the alternative forms of power, light and heat in industry. It is the old story, and I think that hon. Members above the Gangway are not doing the men that they represent any good by bringing forward such criticisms.
As to the question of overtime, I am sorry that the hon. Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker) is not present because he mentioned me in his speech when I said, "Hear, hear" in commendation of the inquiry. I read the report carefully and submitted it to my management. In the 982 collieries of which I am chairman, as much as 99 per cent. of our coal is machine got. The question of overtime, which I believe has been brought forward sincerely by hon. Members, is one in regard to which both the management and the owners recognise that a man who has spent eight hours down the pit has worked sufficiently long. We do not want men to go on working after that time, but unforeseen conditions often arise at the end of a shift with regard to cutting and clearing which make this necessary. If all the cases were investigated honestly and fairly, I am sure that it would be found that it is in exceptional cases when the work of hundreds of men may be involved in the continuance of production in the next or following shifts. These things work in rhythm. We cut one shift clearing the next shift, move machinery and supports for the next shift. The whole thing is done with rhythm much like a factory above ground; in fact, the modern mine is full of machinery to-day and has to work with a rhythm. The only time when the manager will ask men to continue working is perhaps when there is a "cut out" of power, or an accident has occurred and it is a question of making preparations for the next shift. This statement will stand the test of examination, and I can assure hon. Members that the managements will be prepared to have an examination. I do not mix up the question of mining on Sunday with overtime. I should have thought that Scotland would be the last place in which one had to work on Sunday.
§ Mr. SLATER
Perhaps the hon. Member is right. We are not a bad lot, are we? At any rate, this is introducing a question which is not relative at all.
§ Mr. E. WILLIAMS
I presume that when talking about overtime the hon. Member is referring to his own collieries. He will not suggest that his knowledge extends to South Wales where we can show that overtime is being worked, and where we see men going home from work outside the regular hours.
§ Mr. SLATER
Obviously that depends upon facts which must be proved, but I accept the statement of the hon. Member. I am speaking generally on the 983 question of the necessity of overtime being worked when emergency arises. If I thought that this practice was being abused I should be one of the first to condemn it. Coming back after six months away from the coal trade, and having bad plenty of time in which to think over the course of events, I think that the National Government have in a very short time adopted some really concrete, constructive proposals with regard to the coal industry. The contribution of the Government in tightening up the defects of the Act of 1930 is important, but I am sure that even the Minister recognises that the giving of greater flexibility to export brings other difficulties. I consider that I am doing my duty as an hon. Member of this House by pointing out the fact that, if we artificially direct trade to certain exporting districts by means of our Trade Agreements and then sub-divide the standard tonnage allotted to the various collieries and districts throughout the country, it may well be that the exporting districts which have received the artificially directed trade may have to suffer some diminution in the standard tonnage for home disposal. In fact, it creates another difficulty. His Majesty's Government have seen fit, quite rightly, to give the lie to the question of putting artificial hindrance on coal being available for our foreign customers, which, in these hard times, we certainly cannot possibly countenance.
They have also definitely decided to deal with the inter-district competition with regard to prices. I attach far more importance to that matter than I do to the first point. The task undertaken by a very resolute Secretary for Mines—and I commend him upon his resolution in dealing with the matter—is one with which I do not think hon. Members will be disappointed, even though they do not see very material alterations at once. Think of the enormity of the task of fixing inter-district prices. You have producing and consuming districts, and you have consuming and non-producing areas. The position arises in which every producing district operates against another producing district for the trade in the non-producing consuming district. I am in Great Britain. I produce my coal within the ambit of this island of ours and I claim to have an equal right to 984 market my coal anywhere inside this country. Take the example of London. The Midlands, Scotland, Northumberland, Durham, and even Ayrshire, Troon, and South Wales may all be interested in this consuming area, which is a non-producing area. There is the question of the relativity of pit prices and of transport charges. If the position finally is to be that there shall be strict fairness in the question of apportioning equal opportimities to all districts to compete, you have not only to go into the question of the thermal efficiency of coal at the point of consumption but at the point of production. Though it is so great a task—and I do not think that hon. Members will be disappointed if we' do not see great steps being taken as a result of giving this equality—I feel that it has been well worth attempting.
There are two or three things which I have been studying for a long time. I would seek the attention of the Minister to such a phrase as "a producing district." In Scotland they have home prices. In the Glasgow area, in Ayrshire or Lanarkshire they have prices for "washed smalls" which are perhaps in that area 15s. or 16s. per ton. They decide to become interested in the requirements, say, of Liverpool Corporation or a corporation on the Bristol Channel. You then see the Act used by the producers in Scotland to cut the prices which they get in their o wn district so that they can go into another district and rob it of its legitimate trade. The quickest way to deal with this is by the Central Executive. The first thing I would ask the Secretary for Mines to impress upon the Central Executive would be to stop that sort of thing. If they quote a price which is less than that which the local producing county are asking for home contracts, the matter should go before the Central Executive and the price should be adjusted to what is considered to be a fair price.
The second important point with which I want to deal is the loss of aggregate proceeds which the industry is generally suffering by the frightful inter-district conpetition. I have been taking great pains to try to assess the extent of it. It is no exaggeration to say that to-day if there were a really efficient central executive adjusting prices with fairness and equality as between all producing and consuming districts you could add, 985 with a stroke of the pen, £5,000,000 to the aggregate proceeds of the coal industry. Think what that means in wages. It does not mean more men, but it means a great deal so far as wages are concerned, and it cannot be tolerated any longer without a great deal of remonstration not only from hon. Members above the Gangway but also from hon. Members who are supporters of the Government. I am sure that the Secretary for Mines has this point in mind.
There is another matter which, after a reflection of several years, I am convinced must be grappled with at once. It will not surprise some hon. Members, although it may surprise others, to know that ever since the coal trade has existed, that is ever since commercial practices and usages came into operation, it has been the policy to sell small coal at a dead loss. The whole question of the coal trade lies in the price of smalls. If we could only get an advance of 1s. 6d. or 2s. per ton in the price of smalls, it would make all the difference not only to the financial results of the industry but also to the volume of consumption. In selling smalls at a loss we have always extorted from domestic consumers prices for large coal which we never should have asked, and we have thus been gradually making them go to electricity and gas; we have, in fact, been helping our competitors. What we really want to do is to reduce the price of large coal. It is becoming very difficult to find markets for large coal, and we have often had to break up large coal in order to create smalls. This is a very important matter.
I have looked at the people who take smalls, and have ascertained what would be the effect of an advance of 20 per cent. in the price. Take, for example, the Sheffield electricity works. The average cost price in 1933 for coal was 0.19d. per k.w.h. The average price to consumers was 1.0d. and the profit £144,452 on an output of 228,000,000 k.w.h., that is, 0.15d. per k.w.h. The average total cost, therefore, was 0.85d. per k.w.h. and the fuel cost 22.4 per cent. of this figure. If, therefore, the fuel cost was increased by 20 per cent. the total cast per k.w.h. would be raised by only 4 per cent. In other words, although it may sound extraordinary to suggest an advance of 20 per cent. in the price of smalls, it is nothing for those people who have a 986 monopoly in their areas and who have been using that monopoly to create a competitor to the use of coal. This cannot be tolerated; there must be a central executive authority who will grapple with the situation. We have not finished with the mining areas when we have blotted them out so far as their power to exist is concerned, because they will still exist and unemployment pay will have to be given in these particular areas. I suggest that there is no problem more important, to which the Secretary for Mines can apply all his energy, and every possible assistance will be given by everybody, than this question of raising prices to an economic level and enabling this section of the industry to increase its competitive possibilities as against electricity, gas and oil.
There is another question which I have been studying with great care, and that is the question of the sea-borne coal to the south of England. I accept the argument with regard to the right of these producers to sell their coal anywhere in Britain. No one will deny them that right, but when I see what is going on in regard to distribution, and what they are obtaining, I wonder why the Northumberland people should continue to do so. I am not making any criticism or attack on Northumberland. My remarks are intended to be constructive. Let me give some figures of what is happening in regard to this sea-borne coal. Coals are being shipped costing between 13s. 6d. and 14s. per ton, free on board at Blyth. They cost about 2s. 6d. to 4s. to send to varying points around the South Coast. They are there screened, and there is a certain amount of degradation, that is, smalls are about 20 per cent. These smalls ca-n be sold in the south of England at a loss of about 2s. per ton on the average, and this Northumberland coal, graded in the truck, is being put at the disposal of retail distributors in the south at 18s. or Li per ton. I would not mind that, but I have gone around the South Coast and I find that the price which is being charged for this coal—the average price for this coal throughout the whole of the south of England—is no less than 44s. per ton, a difference of 24s. gross profit, and yet this district is paying the lowest wages in England and cannot make any profits. It does not add a single ton to the aggregate consumption of Great 987 Britain, but it brings down the aggregate proceeds of the entire industry and the wages and profits in the industry.
This cannot be tolerated; it must be met with a firm hand. It would pay the Midland districts of England to go to Northumberland and pay them 1s. per ton to go out of production. The position is as absurd as that. Northumberland would, of course, say that they want to produce, but I say that the Northumberland producers would make far more money for themselves and for their miners if they would work in co-operation with other districts on this question. They have put coal at selective points, lower coastal freights as against higher railway rates have brought it about, but there is no question that this matter of selling is of paramount importance to the trade, and I hope that the Secretary of Mines and his Department will apply themselves to this question in the coming years.
I have given the Secretary for Mines notice that I intend to bring forward another matter which happens to be somewhat local, and I hope hon. Members will pardon me for mentioning it, but I cannot possibly allow it, although I may be selfishly interested in it, to be left unsaid. I refer to the case tried quite recently of Wolstanton versus the North Staffordshire Executive Board. This was a colliery bought by pottery manufacturers and tile manufacturers for the purpose of supplying themselves with coal. It was an ironstone mine, a few years ago, but now works a seam called the Great-Row seam. This is a highly suitable coal for the pottery industry. They have made great progress because they are working in what is a secured natural and local geographical area for distribution. They are not tackling outside trade, which means so much to employment; they are just doing their own trade. They have repeatedly applied and have received advances in their standard tonnage, but the last application of this company for an advance on their standard tonnage was contested by the North Staffordshire Executive Board. The question was the interpretation of Section 41 of the Act which deals with special circumstances. It was contended by the applicants that a special demand for a special coal was a special circumstance, bringing about the need for an increase in their standard tonnage. In other 988 words, they said that they had customers who were sharedolders in their company who would buy their coals, and that this constituted a special demand and special circumstances why the arbitrator should grant them an increase. It was refused, and the case was carried to the High Court, where Mr. Justice Crossman decided that a special demand did exist, that there were special circumstances, and that a grant of a further 50,000 tons to their standard tonnage should be granted to this company.
This may be a very significant thing for other districts if it is left as it is. I am told that there is no appeal from the judgment of Mr. Justice Crossman, but if something is not done now, it will mean that railway companies, public utility companies, groups of manufacturers who are now buying from independent producers, can purchase collieries and because of special demand work them at 100 per cent. efficiency, while independent producers lose their trade. As there is no more than an aggregate amount of tonnage throughout the country, they will put the whole of the independent non-consuming collieries into bankruptcy. We cannot possibly allow such circumstances like that to continue. It threatens the whole basis of the Act of 1930. To enforce restrictions on colliery owners is bad enough, but to single out collieries for special treatment, at the expense of others, is making fish of one and fowl of another.
I hope that the Minister will riot give me a negative reply and say that nothing can be done. I hope that something will be done. In my district 13 producers as against four, have sent a letter to the Secretary for Mines putting our case before him. We say that a precedent has already been created, that other people are organising on these lines— shareholders of companies and others—and that, if it goes on, the whole business is going to be thrown into chaos. We in North Staffordshire do not play second fiddle to the owners in any other district as regards our association with our men We are on the friendliest terms with the men; they work for us in a spirit of loyalty and we have done there what has not been done yet anywhere else. We have a new three years agreement including an increase of the minimum wage, and increases in the wages of boys. 989 [Laughter.] It is nothing to laugh at; it is something for which I think Members of the Labour party ought to commend us. I ask hon. Members to consider the effect of what I have indicated upon a district like that, a district which is in connection not only with the pottery industry but with the coal industry. An appeal has been signed in that district and posted in every works asking that every man in the district should join his union. That is a commendable thing, and I say that in a district like that or in connection with a business like that, we ought not to allow any "fish and fowl" policy to operate in the administration of the Act. Therefore, I ask the Minister and the Committee to support me in saying that this policy ought not to be allowed to persist.
§ Mr. T. SMITH
So many hon. Members wish to speak on this Vote that I do not propose to follow the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Slater) in the remarks which he has made except, to say that the major portion of his speech sounded familiar to me. I remember in 1930 when the late Mr. William Graham was telling the House of Commons that the pit-head price of coal ought to be increased by ls. 6d. a ton, many hon. Members who now sit opposite jeered at him for suggesting any such thing or attempting to bring it about. I think the hon. Member for Eastbourne would find on these benches a good deal of support for his policy of getting an increased price for small coal and various other classes of coal. In our opinion the pit-head price of coal in this country is too low and the price of household coal to the consumer is far too high. One has only to recall the fact that we are supplying coal to places abroad from this country, f.o.b. at the ports of Goole and Hull, consigned as far away as Iceland and the Scandinavian countries, at shillings per ton cheaper than the price at which same coal can be bought two miles from where it is produced. There can be no doubt that there is something wrong. I would ask the hon. Member for Eastbourne, who is preventing a better price being got for the small coal? The hon. Member happens to have interests in certain collieries. I hope he will try to induce his fellow coal-owners to pursue the policy which he has out-. lined. If he does so, we shall support him through thick and thin. 990 When the hon. Member talked about overtime, however, some of us' were inclined to disagree with what he said. The matter is not quite as simple as he indicated. I hope the Secretary for Mines will believe me when I say that overtime in the pits is not confined to Lancashire or Scotland. I am. not saying that it is general in all the coalfields, but I know that there is more overtime in Yorkshire and in other counties than there ought to be, and I want to get at the point of view of the Mines Department upon this question. We have to differentiate between emergency work and overtime. A good deal of criticism has been levelled at hon. Members on this side for our attitude towards this question. Our attitude can be explained in a few sentences. If there is any danger there is no limit to the hours that a miner will work. If a man is buried under a, fall, the miners would stop all night and forget all about the Act. If there was a heading which required to be got through for ventilation and safety purposes the men would willingly do the work. But what we say is that a great deal of work is being defined as emergency work which is really ordinary overtime.
I take an example from my own area. We have been working machine mining there for 16 years, and what happens in practice is that the deputy comes along at a quarter to one and says, "I want this face cleared before you go." Do the Mines Department regard as emergency work the clearing of a conveyor face in the every-day working of the mine? We ought to have a specific answer to that specific point. Only six days before I returned to the House of Commons, I had charge of a dispute at a very big pit on this particular point, and we made it possible for that face to be cleared without a single man working longer than the Act required. We did it by having relays of men. I would like a definite answer as to the Department's view.
There is a way of stopping this overtime in machine mining, and that is to make the owners pay for it. I notice that the hon. Member for Eastbourne smiles at that suggestion. We have in Yorkshire an agreement that overtime during the week shall be at the rate of time and one-third, and at the week-end at the rate of time and a half. Nobody can say that that is extravagant, but 991 where we have been able to get the whole of the colliery managers to insist on the payment of time and one-third overtime has quickly ceased. But the Secretary for Mines will believe me when I say that we see men coming home from the pit at half-past three or four o'clock when we know that in the ordinary course they should have been out at 2 o'clock and these men are not in the habit of telling lies to us. Therefore, I hope the hon. Gentleman will pursue his inquiries into this matter and will make the attitude of his Department clear on this matter of clearing a face where conveyor working is taking place.
A number of questions have been put to the Secretary for Mines with regard to the proposed regulation for the compulsory use of gas detectors. The hon. Gentleman, in reply to a question of mine, stated that he had met the Miners' Federation of Great Britain and that they and he were considering certain suggestions. I want the Minister to be perfectly frank with the Committee and to state what is the obstacle in the way of progress in this matter. The Minister announced on 19th December last year that he proposed to issue a regulation for the compulsory use of gas detectors underground. We have now reached 17th July, but apparently no possibility of finality in this matter is yet in sight. Has the Minister finished his consultations with the executive of the Miners' Federation? I may say, frankly, that I know the point which is in dispute. Speaking from the opposite side of the House in December, 1929, I advocated the use of automatic gas detectors as distinct from safety lamps. I know something about the subject. I have seen them at work in the pits. All the time from 1929 to the present, there have been inquiries of all kinds with regard to one particular kind of automatic gas detector.
I want to make my position clear. I am not advocating a particular device but I believe that a detector in which the human element does not enter is better than the ordinary flame lamp because testing for gas with the ordinary flame lamp is not an exact science and I would challenge the inspectors of the Mines Department on that point. Inspectors have admitted that if three or four skilled men were separately examining for gas with flame safety lamps they would in 992 all probability arrive at slightly different percentages. In 1928 an order was made concerning the Ringrose automatic gas alarm. I want to put this question to the Minister. What is the objection to this device? Is it prejudice on the part of somebody in the Department? Is the device not efficient If any device was inefficient and I knew it was inefficient, I would not advocate it in any shape or form but this device has overcome nearly every obstacle put up against it. I challenge the Secretary for Mines to dispute that fact. It has been tested in the laboratory and in the pits. It has been subjected to a very thorough test and I would like to know what is the objection of the Department to it.
We were told in the last Debate that it is not the only device. I hope that it will not be the only one. The moment we get to the point of giving something like an opportunity to inventive men, these devices will spring up like mushrooms. I am very pleased to know that some hon. Members are interesting themselves in this problem. I notice a report in the "Sheffield Daily Telegraph" that a number of. Members representing all parties took the trouble of going to the Staveley Coal and Iron Company's colliery to have a look at this device. I have seen the device both inside and outside the pits, and from the report in the newspaper it would appear that the hon. Members who showed so much interest in the welfare of the miners as to inspect it, were impressed by its efficiency. Therefore, we ought to be told what is the objection of the Department to it and also when we are likely to get finality with regard to these regulations. It is now July and we shall be rising in the course of three weeks. Apparently it will be November before we can hope for any finality. The Minister ought to take the Committee into his confidence in this matter.
I would also like the hon. Gentleman to tell us whether he is getting any complaints from the Humber ports about the shortage of coal for export. I am prepared to defend the 1930 Act anywhere but there are some pits in my constituency which supply coal to the Humber ports for export. and I have three or four letters which indicate clearly that there is difficulty about getting supplies of coal for export. I have talked the matter over with at least 993 one South Yorkshire coalowner and he admits that it is true. I think I know the reason. I think there is a demand for a particular kind of coal, but I think hon. Members will agree that this is a matter of public interest. The people who want to export this coal are dependent upon the coal being exported and they have a right to know from the Minister what is the exact position. I hope the hon. Gentleman will tell us what complaints he has had from Hull and district with regard to this matter, and will state whether he can clear up the matter satisfactorily.
§ Mr. CONANT
The Debate has covered an extraordinarily wide field, but that is not surprising when one considers the large number of interests with which my hon. Friend the Minister is concerned in dealing with the coal industry. The topic which interests me most is the progress which has been made in producing derivatives from coal. I believe that the future of the coal trade depends far more upon the development of new uses for coal than anything else. It is generally agreed that a large part of the depression in the coal trade is due to the loss of our export markets, and every effort ought to be made to win them back; but I think we cannot expect to regain them to any very large extent, and must look therefore to the home trade and to the replacing of foreign oil by coal for an expansion of employment in the coal trade. It seems to me, and I think most hon. Members will agree, that it is absolutely wrong in principle that we who have beneath us the best fuel in the world should have allowed our industries to develop through the use of foreign oil. When we remember that we became a great industrial country because we possessed this natural fuel beneath our soil it is all the more amazing that we have allowed this development in the use of oil fuel. One of the principal uses to which foreign oil is now put is the driving of motor cars. Not everybody appreciates that it is perfectly practicable at the present day to drive motor cars by British fuel—not only British petrol, but coal gas and other fuels. The Minister referred to the enriching of coal gas by the addition of creosote, which has made it possible for motor cars driven by coal gas to extend their radius very considerably. The running of motors on coal gas 994 is now a practical proposition for almost all commercial vehicles, and the only difficulty to be overcome is the prejudice against a new form of fuel. This is a direction in which the Government and the Minister can help very considerably. The development of motor transport driven by coal gas may provide a great field of employment.
In referring to employment in the coal trade one is inclined to get an entirely false picture of the situation if one compares the books of a colliery company, say, 15 years ago with the books to-day. One finds a very considerable decrease in the number of people employed by that colliery to-day, and if one is a Socialist one may have great satisfaction in gloating over the imminent collapse of the capitalist system. Such a comparison of figures presents an entirely false picture. The real comparison is between the number of people employed in producing fuel 15 years ago and the number of people employed in fuel production to-day. In the past the production of fuel was to a large extent represented by the production of coal. A certain number of people were engaged in producing gas and electricity, but employment was mainly found in bringing the coal from the coal face to the pithead. To-day, evolution has come about, and the coal is conveyed from the coal face to the pithead very largely, and to an increasing extent, by machinery. Employment is being created to an ever-increasing extent above ground, not necessarily in what we call the coal trade itself, but in the fuel-producing industries, such as gas and electricity, and in the engineering industry, which makes the machinery for converting coal into petrol, gas or electricity.
Although it is impossible to collect the actual figures, if one were to compare the volume of employment given by the production of fuel, say, 15 years ago with the figures to-day one would find, over that wide field, that on account of mechanisation employment has been considerably increased. Mechanisation has meant a smaller number of men employed underground in the dangerous, and perhaps unhealthy, and to some extent unpleasant, occupation of getting coal from the coal face to the pit head. Mechanisation has made it possible to adapt coal to an ever-increasing extent to new uses by which an increase in 995 employment will be created in the future. To-day we are still in the stage of transition. We still have a number of people who have lost employment in the actual production of coal, many of whom, unfortunately, will be most unlikely, owing to age and disability, to regain employment either in the coal trade or in the trades occupied with derivatives of coal. Perhaps that is inevitable, but we must remember that as there are developments in the newer uses of coal we shall create ever-increasing employment, and however much we may for the moment, regret the temporary dislocation which mechanisation has caused I believe that future generations will regard the mechanisation as having been inevitable, and will regard it as necessary and advisable that we should, as far as possible, cut short the transition stage. I believe that certain steps could be taken, though it may not be possible to refer to them now, which would assist these new developments and would have the effect of cutting short the transition stage from hand labour to machine labour, and I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister will do what he can to convince the Government of the necessity for action. Above all, I hope that in these matters we shall take a broad view and study the coal problem not as solely a coal problem but as concerned with the whole question of the fuel resources of the country.
rather enjoyed the speech of the Secretary for Mines to-day, because he seemed to be so extremely happy. It looked as though he had made himself believe that the Government's policy had been a good thing for the coal industry. He specially mentioned Durham, and indicated what the Government's policy had done for Durham. That is my excuse for speaking to-night. The last ascertainment issued in Durham is dated 3rd July and I want the Minister to know one or two of the things that it shows. According to that ascertainment there are now 102,667 men working, compared with 103,651 last month, a decrease of 984. There is nothing to be jubilant about in that. Then they go on to say:Compared with April, 1924, the highest point of employment, when there were 172,326 employed, the reduction is 69,559.It states, further, that the deficit for the month is £136,481, bringing the total to 996 £15,027,318. The miners are owing more than £15,000,000 to the coalowners. The same ascertainment also says that the average wage for May was 7s. 9.8d. In the face of those figures how the Secretary for Mines can say that the Government's policy has been good for the coal industry in the County of Durham I cannot understand.
Coming to the question of overtime, I would direct the Minister's attention to the report of His Majesty's Inspector of Mines for the Northern District this year. I would note in passing that the inspector omitted to deal with the question of overtime. I am not complaining of the report, which I consider is an extremely good one, and I am prepared to compliment the inspector upon it, but in view of the complaints of the large amount of overtime, which are not confined to Lancashire or Scotland but also concern Durham, the Minister ought to instruct the inspectors to deal with the overtime question in their reports. There is one case in the report, on page 11, which I would bring to the Minister's notice. It deals with an explosion in which three men were killed, and says:The face was undercut by three machine men.Then it gives their names:They commenced cutting at the dip end of the face about 1 p.m. on Saturday. The face was 110 yards long and the cut was normally completed within the shift, but on this occasion various mishaps to the haulage chain and sprocket delayed the work, and the cut had only just been completed when the explosion occurred at 11.30 p.m.They had started work at one o'clock and the explosion occurred at 11.30.
I ask the Minister to see that this excessive overtime is ended. Nobody can justify a case in which men start at 1 o'clock on a. Saturday afternoon to undercut a face of coal and continue until 11.30. The strange thing is that there was no prosecution in that case. The argument which the Minister generally uses on the question of overtime is that the Act of 1908 provides for a certain amount of overtime to be worked. It does, but it is limited to 60 hours per year and not more than one hour per day. The men in this case ought to have finished at half-past eight, but they were working until half-past eleven, and then there was an explosion and three of them were killed, yet no attempt has been made to take into court either the manager or the agent of the colliery. One of the most effective ways of stopping overtime would be to bring some cases into court. This case ought certainly to have been taken to court, and it is difficult to understand why some steps were not taken against the agent or the manager.
The face that these men were cutting was 110 yards long. The manager might say that as the machine men had begun to cut the face of the coal, it was essential that the work should be finished, in order that the coal might be taken away next day. We can understand that argument, but there is no justification for faces of coal to be as long as 110 yards. A resolution was passed recently in Durham County saying that faces of coal should not be longer than 66 yards. Cases like the one which I have cited point to the need for preventing overtime and accidents and for coal faces being much shorter than 110 yards. The limit should be 66 yards so that, when machine men have begun to cut, there will be a reasonable chance of their being able to complete the cut during the shift.
There is a matter which has been mentioned on more than one occasion, in regard to the need for a National Wages Board. We are making no progress in that matter. The Ministry of Mines recently sent a letter to the Miners' Federation, and I am proposing to read that letter to the Secretary for Mines. The letter says:Dear Mr. Edwards, I have your letter of the 13th April, suggesting the appointment of a special committee."—998 The federation had been asking for a special committee to go into the question of fixing national wages machinery. The letter goes on:No such committee is necessary to convince the Government of the desirability of national wages machinery in the mining industry. What is wanted is the co-operation of the coalowners or a practicable scheme for securing national machinery in spite of the opposition of the coalowners.I draw the attention of the Secretary for Mines to the words:What is wanted is the co-operation of the coalowners.The Secretary for Mines has had a long time in which to get the co-operation of the coalowners. The machinery is there. The board was established by the 1930 Act, but all that happens is that the coal-owners will not attend. I submit that the Secretary for Mines ought to take steps to compel the coalowners to attend the board, so that we might have this machinery. We cannot continue to go on as we have been going on, month after month and year after year. Nothing has been done. National machinery for the regulation of miners' wages is one of the urgent needs of the coal trade, and the Minister ought to use all the power he has to force the owners to come round a table, even if that means that he has to do it by the threat of legislation. I will leave it there.
When we were discussing the Order-in-Council and the agreement made recently between the coalowners and the Government, we learned that the machinery for quotas and for the establishment of minimum prices would be in the hands of a central council of the coalowners, and that the council would draft rules. When we debated the matter on a former occasion we did not get very much satisfaction as to whether those rules would be laid before the House. The Minister will have had time to go into the matter since then, and I ask him to tell us in his reply whether the rules that are drafted by the central council of coalowners will come before the House and whether we shall have a chance of debating them. There has been an urgent need for to-day's Debate. The pity is that we have no time to deal with many subjects that might be dealt with.
§ Major HILLS
I rise to speak on the subject of the prevention of accidents in 999 mines. I have had the privilege of being one of a party to see an automatic gas detector in operation. Before I give the result of our visit I want to answer a question which was put from the Opposition as to whether we thought that the conditions of working in mines were very unpleasant. We went down a mine that belongs to the Staveley Coal and Iron Company, Limited. It is a very well-organised and ventilated mine. I have been down far worse mines. Of course it was hot. All mines over 1,000 feet are hot. What the effect of being down 4,000 feet in the ground is I cannot say. I have never been as deep down as that. I should not care to be a miner, because it must be very hot work, but I must say that, as far as the mine that we went down is concerned, I thought that everything was very well arranged. The lighting and ventilation were good, but on that I speak with diffidence, because some miners' representatives were with the deputation, and they can speak about that with far greater experience than I can.
We visited one of the Markham Collieries belonging to the Staveley Coal and Iron Company, Limited. The deputation comprised representatives of all parties, and of four different coalfields, in Nottinghamshire, Durham, Yorkshire, and Northumberland. I tried to make it rather larger, but Friday is a bad day, because Members are speaking in their constituencies and very large numbers of Members whom I tried to get to join the deputation had engagements which they could not break. An experiment was made. There were four Ringrose automatic gas alarms, and gas was put into them artificially. All the red lights burned at the proper interval after the gas had gone in. I do not lay great stress on that. The next experiment took place when we went down 600 yards to the pit of the mine and walked what seemed a very long distance along the mine. We got very hot in so doing. Then we came to the face, where the men were working with automatic firedamp alarms in operation. There we had the extraordinary experience of seeing gas allowed to come in and the lamps burning red. All the lamps were burning red, and not a single lamp was failing. Then, I am glad to say, the ventilation 1000 was restored, and all the lamps burned white again.
I would ask the Committee to mark one thing about that experiment; it was not done by the makers of the automatic firedamp alarms but by the management of the Markham Colliery, who have installed the alarms for the purpose of increasing the safety of the men who work in the mine. It was not an experiment where everything had been made ready for the people who came to see the experiment, and it was an extremely impressive experience which, I think, none of us will ever forget. It was a most interesting and, I believe, hopeful experiment. I see from the "Sheffield Daily Telegraph" of 12th July a statement that the Minister—will probably assure the deputation of the Miners' Federation that he sympathises with the present experiment and will enjoin the use of some automatic gas detectors as soon as it is proved that they are reliable in all circumstances.I hope that that notice is true, and that the Secretary for Mines will make some move forward. I know that he is just as anxious as any hon. Member to put a stop to the terrible loss of life that takes place in the mines, but we who have pressed this matter upon him feel that there is some delay, and we should like to know the reason for it. Is it that the Ringrose automatic alarm is not reliable, or that there is no reliable instrument of any sort? If so, we should like to be told. As far as we could see, and as far as I could judge by reading the literature, the Ringrose alarm is an excellent contrivance, but if there is any fault, and if it fails to act as it ought, I should like to know. If it is efficient, this is a matter which stands outside and above all the questions that have been discussed this afternoon. I agree with most of those questions—as to the commercial side of coal-getting and the importance of the overtime question—bat this is a case of human life. If we can make working in mines more safe, we shall have done a great service to humanity, and the name of the Secretary of Mines will go down to history. I appeal to him. I am certain that he is just as eager to see this done as I am. If he cannot order the use of automatic firedamp alarms in mines, can he tell us the reason for the delay, and can he hold out hope that at some time he will be able to make the Order?
§ 6.44 p.m.
Many subjects have been touched upon during our consideration of this vote. I do not propose to follow the Secretary for Mines in his references to the extraction of oil from coal—whether by low temperature carbonisation or hydrogenation—smokeless fuel and pulverised coal. Many of us on these benches would approve any Order that would increase safety in the mines of this country. I propose to confine my remarks to the question of overtime at a particular colliery, and to emphasising again the position of wages in the mining industry.
I want, in the first place, to direct the attention of the Committee to the number of accidents that have occurred at the Bedwas Colliery, in Monmouthshire. I do so because the increase in the accident rate at this colliery is, naturally, causing some anxiety, not only to the men employed at the colliery, but to others whose interest it is to keep in touch with the question of the safety of our people who are employed in the mines. My hon. Friend the Member for Bedwellty (Mr. C. Edwards), who is not here to-day, has shown considerable interest in the question of accidents at this colliery, and, on the 3rd July, he put a question to the Secretary for Mines asking what were the percentages of fatal arid of non-fatal accidents at the Bedwas Colliery, and how these percentages compared with those for the South Wales coalfield as a, whole. The hon. Gentleman's reply was as follows:The average for the last five years of the annual fatal accident-rate per 100,000 manshifts worked is 0.9 at Bedwas Colliery, compared with 0.48 for the South Wales coalfield. The corresponding averages for non-fatal accidents are 75.3 and 72.4 respectively.In reply to a supplementary question, the hon. Gentleman said:In the case of this particular colliery two things have to be taken into account: first, the natural conditions, and, secondly, a question of discipline over recent years."—[07rt CIA', REPORT, 3rd July, 1934; col. 1739, Vol. 291.]I submit that those two conditions apply to every mine in South Wales, and that the comparison is not vitiated by the fact that there may be a particular set of physical conditions at the Bedwas Colliery. I understand from my hon. Friend the Member for Bedwellty that 1002 the Secretary for Mines, in another communication, pointed out that the fatal accident rate at the Bedwas Colliery in 1933 was 1.44 per 100,000 man-shifts worked, while for the whole of South Wales it was 0.49. That shows an increase of 194 per cent. over the accident rate for the whole of South Wales. The nonfatal accident rate at the Bedwas Colliery was 93.12 per 100,000 man-shifts, and for the whole of South Wales it was 67.45, showing an increase of over 40 per cent. at this particular colliery. Here again the Secretary for Mines made a peculiar observation. He said:In considering accident rates at a single colliery, the fluctuations from year to year are often bewildering, and it is not wise to draw conclusions from one year's figures without reference to the corresponding figures for a longer period.I submit, however, that it is a question of comparing the rates of fatal and nonfatal accidents at this colliery with those at all the other collieries in South Wales, and that the questions of physical conditicns and discipline apply to every mine in the country. But the fact that at a particular mine the fatal accident rate is 194 per cent. higher than at all the mines in South Wales, and the non-fatal rate 40 per cent. higher, must give concern, not only to those who are employed in the mines, but to the Mines Department as well, and I am anxious to know what steps the Secretary for Mines proposes to take to reduce the alarming figures at this colliery.
With regard to the question of wages, as recently as last May I made reference to the wages paid to the men employed in the mines of this country, but I assume that no Member of this Committee will require an apology from me for again emphasising the extreme lowness of those wages. I think that very few people, not only in the country, but even in the House of Commons, have appreciated the extent to which miners have suffered reductions in their wages since 1920. In 1920, the total wages paid in the mining industry in Great Britain amounted to £265,000,000. Last year the total wages bill was only £84,000,000—a decrease of £181,000,000 in 13 years. I may be told that there is a smaller number of men employed, and that is quite true, but the average earnings of the men employed in the mines of this country in 1920 were £223 per annum, while for the last year the figure 1003 given by the Secretary for Mines himself is £110, showing a decrease, since 1920, of £113. In South Wales, in 1920, the total wages bill was £65,500,000„ while this year it was only 15,500,000; and the average earnings per person employed in South Wales in 1920 were £252, as against £114 last year, or a reduction of £138. That reduction would have been even greater but for the three months' stoppage that we had in the mines of South Wales in 1920.
I submit that these wages are a scandal, and ought not to be tolerated. Quite recently we had the information that one man in this country had died and left £30,000,000. I want to assure the Committee that the miners of South Wales have no anxiety on the question of being able to die and leave £30,000,000 behind them, because, if they saved their whole annual earnings of £114, they would need to live for 263,000 years in order to save that amount. It may be contended that, coming from South Wales, I have a certain amount of prejudice or bias in favour of South Wales, particularly having regard to the fact that it is a very important exporting district; but I find that similar decreases have occurred in Yorkshire, which is not strictly an exporting district. The total wages in the Yorkshire mining industry in 1920 amounted to £36,000,000, but last year the total was only £15,000,000. The average annual earnings of the men engaged in the mining industry in, Yorkshire in 1920 were £215, whereas in 1933 the average was only £109. Wages are so low that in South Wales and other districts of Great Britain they have had to be supplemented by what are called subsistence allowances. A minimum wage collier in South Wales who in 1914 received a wage of 7s. 4d. per day should now be receiving, taking into account the increase in the cost of living since 1914, 10s. 2.76d., but he only gets at the present moment 8s. 3d., or 1s. 11 3/4. per day below the increase in the cost of living that has taken place since 1914. That is in an industry where, in South Wales alone, in the 10 years 1923–32, 330,731 men and boys were injured, and 2,379 were killed. If hon. Members will examine the Ministry of Labour's list of sweated industries in which wages are regulated by trade boards, they will find that the workers in those industries are 1004 substantially better paid than the colliery worker in South Wales.
We contend, as miners' representatives and as persons who have had some experience in negotiating agreements, that there is no need, even in this depressed industry, for the payment of such low wages or for such variations as there are in the rates of wages paid in the different districts in Great Britain, and that there should be a National Wages Board to determine the wages of our people. In order to demonstrate to the Committee my point that there is no need for the payment of these extremely low wages, I will refer to the last Annual Statistical Summary, issued by the Mines Department, which deals with the output of coal in Great Britain and the cost of production, proceeds and profits of the coal mining industry. According to that Summary, Great Britain is divided into nine districts, four of which last year showed a. loss of £824,848. Those four included South Wales, which recorded a loss of £188,446. The other five districts showed a profit of over £3,000,000, so that the industry as a whole made a profit of no less than £2,177,000. For the quarter ending in March of this year, every district in Great Britain made a profit, and over the whole industry there was a profit of no less than £2,725,000. Even South Wales showed a profit of £34,190. The profit per ton, over the whole of Great Britain, was 1s. 0.32d., but the profit per ton in South Wales was only 1.06d., which was insufficient to permit of an increase in the men's wages, because there is already in South Wales a trading deficiency, which has accumulated since 1931, of £8,833,212, and that deficiency has to be wiped out before the miners in South Wales can hope to get an increase in wages. In view, however, of mining conditions last year, we say that there is no reason why a Welsh miner should not receive as high a wage as a Scottish or English miner. Last year, the average daily wage in Wales was 8s. 11d., while in Great Britain it was 9s. 1.54d. It was 7s. 8d. per day in Northumberland, and 10s. 5d. in North Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.
It is very strange that these wages have no relation at all to the amount of coal produced by the men who receive them. In three districts where the output was 19.02 cwt. per man-shift worked, the wage 1005 was 9s. 3.20d. per day, while in another district where the output was 23.19 cwt. per man-shift worked, the average daily wage was only 7s. 8.47d., the lowest wage in Great Britain. This is also part of our justification for advocating a national wages board. It is certainly irritating, if not annoying, to hear the coalowners' representatives in this House talk about the impossibility of establishing a national wages board. If you take single colliery, there are some parts of it which pay and some which do not, but if you take the pit as a whole it is a paying proposition. What is true of a pit is true of a colliery and a company, and it is true of several companies. As the pit is taken as the unit whether profits are made or not, why could not every pit be taken as a criterion for the rate at which wages should be paid i With the increase in output, some of it due to machinery, who will deny in. this Committee that miners are not putting their all into industry? Why should they receive such low wages? The mineowners should be capable of selling coal at a price which would guarantee a fair wage to the men who produce it.
I want to give an illustration to demonstrate that it is questionable whether coalowners are the best individuals to sell coal for the workers, who only receive starvation wages. I think that all of us will agree that the 30,000,000 tons of coal used every year, in the generation of electricity, is a substantial quota of the coal produced, and that the price obtained for it is of considerable importance to the mining industry. The Board of Trade has submitted figures of interest, if not to coalowners, then to mining representatives. I am informed, according to that information, that if you take the authorised electricity undertakings under public authorities for the year 1931–32 there was a gross surplus of over £17,000,503, while the companies had a gross surplus of £12,886,000. As regards statutory gas undertakings in the same year, companies had receipts in excess of £44,000,000 and local authorities' undertakings had receipts in excess of £21,000,000. In those two industries the gross receipts were in the region of £95,000,000.
I submit that it is very difficult to make a comparison between these industries and the mining industry, because the undertakings owned by local authorities have to provide out of receipts for inter 1006 est and a sinking fund for repayment of capital. If you take the excess of receipts over expenditure in both kinds of undertakings, both privately and municipally owned, they show what might be termed a profit of over £217,000,000 in 12 months. That is considerably better than the deficiency in South Wales of a little over £8,000,000. The mere fact that there is a profit in these two industries can be explained by the miserable price at which the coal is sold by the coalowners. It is entirely, or at least partially, explained by the fact that coal was sold at 15s. 9d. a ton instead of the 35s. charged in 1920. We object, as miners' representatives, to subsidising all these industries out of the wages paid to miners.
The attitude of the Secretary for Mines is not the same as that of the Minister of Agriculture to landowners. Here is a letter to the Miners' Federation from the Mines Department when it was suggested that a sub-committee should be set up in order to discuss the desirability of the establishment of a national wages agreement. Such a letter would never have emanated from the Minister of Agriculture. It reads:I have your letter of 13th April suggesting the setting up of a sub-committee. No such committee is necessary to convince the Government of the desirability of national machinery in the mining industry.If the coalowners refuse any reason, why should not they be coerced? The letter continues:What is wanted is the co-operation of the coalowners or a practical scheme for securing national machinery in spite of the opposition of the coalowners.That is a remarkable statement. This letter, which states clearly that it wants a practical scheme, is signed by A. E. Faulkner. It continues:No practical scheme has yet been suggested by anybody, but we are always ready to consider suggestions without the intervention of a sub-committee.The Minister of Agriculture understands agriculture; he would never have written to the landowners like that. I would like to say the same of those who have held the office of Secretary for Mines during the last eight or nine years. My hon. Friend wants to interject that that is true also of our own people. I will readily admit that. My complaint is that for the last seven or eight years, including appointments made by the Labour Government, it has not been remembered 1007 that you cannot be an effective Minister unless you have experience. I believe in putting into office a man who has had experience before he gets there. That is true of the Minister of Agriculture whatever legislation he has introduced. To expect the miners to remain content with such low wages is too much. The demand of those who occupy these benches is that the Government should take effective steps for the improvement of wages.
There have been one or two detailed points raised to which I would like to reply at once. The first point raised was that by my hon. Friend the Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Slater), who was good enough to give me notice that he was going to raise this matter. Of course, in view of the fact that what he is suggesting would require legislation from my Department, it is quite impossible at this stage in the present conditions to say exactly what will be the effect of the judgment. This is especially so in view of the operation as from 1st January, 1935, of standard tonnages and quotas in respect of supplies as well as output. The judgment is, of course, of general application, and there is no appeal from the court of first instance under the Act. As to the bringing of the question by the Executive Board before the central council of coalowners any representations of the council will, of course, be given the most careful consideration. The hon. Member for Eastbourne also raised the question of coastwise traffic. I would point out that this was one of the issues at the root of the problem involved in the recent Orders for greater elasticity and co-ordination of district prices. The Orders have now been signed, and the detailed schemes have to be worked out, and be, of course, submitted to me for approval. We hope they will operate from the beginning of next year. We shall then have to see just how far it is possible for the central council of coalowners to operate a scheme of co-ordination of district prices. It is a complicated and difficult problem.
The hon. Member for Normanton (Mr. T. Smith) naturally raised the Humber ports question. That is a, very long story, and it would take a long time to describe. I cannot trespass on the time of the Committee to do that. I will try to bring 1008 the question into short focus. The position has become a difficult one. Last week the executive board considered steps to be taken for the export trade. There have, I understand, been put into operation emergency measures designed to achieve this end. They amount to temporary increases of standard tonnage for pits which can show that the increased tonnage is for export, foreign bunkers or fishing vessel bunkers. It roust not be overlooked that the natural difficulties in meeting demands still remain. The hon. Member will understand that this is one of the household coal districts, such as Leicester, which is married in the Midland Amalgamation, and while there are advantages of such marriages, this is one of the disadvantages.
The hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Conant) was naturally interested in corn-pressed gas. He will be interested to hear that as far as it goes 20 vehicles are at present being driven by that method of propulsion. The hon. Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey) asked whether the rule under the Orders of Part I would be submitted to the House for debate. They were submitted to me for approval, and they have been issued. The hon. Member for Abertillery (Mr. Daggar) raised the question of Bedwas. The answer I gave was based on this fact that there are, no doubt, exceptionally difficult physical conditions owing to the irregularity of work during the last two years. I am speaking from memory, but out of 21 years there have been stoppages amounting to something like seven years. That fact alone will give all Members of the Committee to understand that when you get that kind of atmosphere in a particular undertaking, there will be physical difficulties resulting. In addition, there have been very great difficulties in the matter of discipline arising out of that situation. The hon. Member rightly asked me what the Mines Department would undertake to do about it, and I would tell him that the inspectors have been, and are still, giving particular attention to this colliery, and if my hon. Friend or the hon. Member for Bedwellty (Mr. C. Edwards), in whose division the undertaking is, have any particular suggestions for improving the position, and they will let the inspector know, he will be grateful for any constructive suggestion. I can assure the hon. Members 1009 that the matter will have the most close and careful attention.
The hon. Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker) raised the question of deep and hot mines, and perhaps I cannot do better than respond to the appeal made by my Noble Friend the Member for Lonsdale (Lord Balniel) by giving the Committee the advantage of the note written by the highest authority on this subject, Dr. J. S. Haldane. Dr. Haldane has given many months of recent years to working not only on this mining problem, but on many other problems for the well-being and safety of the miner, and there is no problem to which he has given more careful attention than this. The hon. Member will know that a whole series of reports on hot and deep mines has been issued by those who, working under Dr. Haldane, have given special attention to them and to the colliery, which the hon. Member himself referred particularly. Dr. Haldane states:Mr. Tinker relates quite correctly that the temperature at which he found men working in the colliery which he visited (Parsonage Colliery in Lancashire) was about 103°. This is much hotter than the shade temperature ever reached on the surface in England, but not so hot as is often the case in warm climates. In Australia, for instance, the test matches have sometimes been played at as high a shade temperature, and with the effects of a hot sun superadded.Those who know Dr. Haldane will know with what sympathy he views all the operations of the miner. He goes on:In the Report of the Royal Commission on Health and Safety in Mines (1909) the question is carefully discussed as to whether it is desirable to place (as was. and still is, the case in certain continental countries) some limitation on the temperatures permitted in coal mines. It was pointed out that it is not the air-temperature but the temperature shown by a wet-bulb thermometer that is important, other things being equal, to the men working in a coal mine; also that European miners (at any rate) always stop work before their temperatures rise to any injurious extent. The only case of heat-stroke hitherto recorded in a British coal miner"—There has been one other—was that of John Welsby, a Yorkshire miner wearing a rescue-apparatus at the disastrous fire in Hamstead Colliery, near Birmingham, in 1908. Not being accustomed "to a warm mine, he went underground clothed in three layers of flannel, and died from heat-stroke in an extremely gallant and determined effort to reach any men who were still alive.1010 The Commission unanimously drew the following conclusion—'On the whole, we do not think that any good object would be served by prescribing a limit of wet-bulb temperature for the carrying on of work in mines.'It was quite evident that the continental regulations on this subject were based on very imperfect knowledge; and it is surprising that such regulations should still exist. They represent a curious survival of former ignorance.At the working face referred to by Mr. Tinker the wet-bulb temperature is more than 20° below the air-temperature, and lower than is often met with in other deep mines. The work done—that of filling coal on to a conveyor—is, however, hard, and the position of the miners cramped. With the help of an investigator of the Hot and Deep Mines Committee, the management is endeavouring to secure cooler conditions, so as to diminish the amount of 'sweating entailed by the work.The subject of heat in mines, its causes, its effects on men, and the various means by which it can be kept within bounds, are discussed in the series of reports of the Deep and Hot Mines Committee, published in the Transactions of the Institution of Mining Engineers since 1919.Neither the Royal Commission reporting in 1909, nor any report of the Deep and Hot Mines Committee, has suggested any definite limitation of the depth at which coal can be worked, beyond pointing out that the greater the depth the better the ventilation must be. The idea that 4,000 feet would prove to be about the maximum depth at which men can work dates from a time when knowledge of the subject was very limited.That was dated the 24th November, 1933, after I had asked Dr. Haldane personally if he could give me any observations from his own individual experience as to this subject, and I can assure the hon. Member for Leigh that all is being done in the mine to which he referred to make the conditions as easy as can be, but he must understand the importance of the point made by the Noble Lord the Member for Lonsdale as to just what would happen economically to the pit if action were taken which would mean the closing of that very difficult seam.
As the hon. Member will see, some of the information in the note which I have read was obtained from this colliery by one of Dr. Haldane's investigators, and it is natural that when this subject is investigated, that mine among others should be examined.
I have been asked various questions on one or two major points. First there is the question of the hon. Member for Normanton and the right hon. and gallant Member for Ripon (Major Hills) about automatic gas detectors. They asked what obstacle there is, what objection there is, and what prejudice there is in the Mines Department against automatic gas detectors. The answer is that there is no possible objection to these detectors and no prejudice against them, except the overriding responsibility of the Secretary for Mines for the safe working of all the coal mines in the country. That is the only consideration which overrides everything else. The Secretary for Mines has to face the responsibility for the safety of mines, and if he were to adopt the suggestion of the hon. Member for Normanton, put forward in all good faith, for the compulsory use of this or that device, what would be the situation?
This device was brought to the attention of the Department some years ago, and with regard to the particular automatic detector which hon. Members have been describing, the Ringrose, those responsible would agree, I am sure, that every possible assistance was given them. in the early stages by the Mines Department. More than that, there was a good deal of good will shown in various collieries in the country towards the new device; but, alas, a new atmosphere was created by the agitation to make the appliance compulsory. Hon. Members sometimes fail to understand, in their keenness to push what they think is a really first-class device, that one of the very worst ways to get progress is to create prematurely an agitation in favour of compulsion. What has been done? The hon. Member for Normanton said that this device has passed every test, but he surely overlooked the three tests in the three pits under working conditions. Any Member of this Committee who would read those reports and would then imagine himself or herself as Secretary for Mines, responsible for analysing and collating the evidence con 1012 tained in those reports, and would say that they had passed a test sufficient to make the use of that particular detector compulsory for the pits, would be making a claim that cannot be justified by the evidence there; but I do not wish to be drawn into that discussion. Personally, I am, very sympathetic towards the development of the detector, but what hon. Members are asking me to do, as Secretary for Mines, is to make it compulsory in all pits.
I challenge the hon. Member on that point. During all the discussions in this House from 1929 on this subject, I challenge the Secretary for Mines to say that I have ever insisted on a particular device. I have always insisted that any approved automatic detector should be made compulsory, in order that other inventions may come along, and then something better may be nut on the market.
Not all hon. Members have taken that point of view, and we have to consider more than an automatic detector. We have to consider the flame detector as well. The present position is that there has been no subject that has given more cause for thought, anxiety, and negotiations than this subject for the nearly two years that I have been at the Mines Department, and I assure hon. Members that there is no prejudice against this device, as a device, in my own mind or in the mind of the Department. I am concerned to take no step which will endanger the safety of men working in the mines in any respect. What have we got? After a long period of negotiations, we have drafted regulations, which I need not now discuss. Suffice it to say that they provide regulations for the application, in all the mines of the country, of detectors, flame or automatic. We have had discussions between various bodies concerned, and at the moment, as I informed the hon. Member yesterday in answer to a question, I am discussing with the Mineworkers' Federation some issues which have arisen out of the draft regulations. As the matter is under discussion, I will not say more at the moment. It would not be advisable, in the interests either of the detectors or of the mines as a whole. but I can assure hon. Members that there is no prejudice against the automatic detector in our minds. Our 1013 sole regard, whether it be a flame or an automatic detector, is to get the best in each pit or in each section of a pit that is required for the detection of gas for the prevention of accidents in mines.
With regard to overtime, the other major question, there are one or two special points. The hon. Member for Spennymoor was under a misapprehension when he quoted the resolution about 66 yards. He had overlooked the fact that the resolution says that it should be 66 yards each side of the mothergate, that is to say, 132 yards, against the 110 yards about which he was complaining in the particular case that he raised, where he thought there ought to have been a reduction. May I point out that in that case, when they worked the three hours' overtime, the sprocket of the chain actually broke, and I do not think any hon. Member can doubt that in that case, if a prosecution had been undertaken, it would have been dismissed, because that was legitimately emergency work under the terms of the Act of 1908. It is not enough to see men coming out of a pit and to talk with them to know that they have been working overtime. The issue fcr those who have to take action under the law is whether or not evidence can be got to justify a prosecution. Hon. Members opposite must understand that nothing would do the case they are putting forward against overtime more damage than for prosecutions to be taken which failed in the courts for lack of evidence. In some cases, where it is suspected that there has been illegal overtime, the difficulty is, when the case is framed, to get the evidence to prove that the prosecution is justified.
On the general topic, the hon. Member for Normanton put me one personal question, and asked what was the view of the Mines Department about the actual period at the coal face. If the men are frequently being kept on overtime on a particular face it is obvious that either the face is too long or the work is wrongly organised. In such cases the Department considers the overtime illegal. If, however, an occasional or unexpected event keeps the men late, we consider that the overtime is covered by the emergency Clause of the 1908 Act. I hope that that will satisfy hon. Members opposite. With regard to the actual case of the boy, I 1014 suppose I am right in saying that the hon. Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker) was thinking of the Bickershaw case. Weighing all the evidence I think the facts are that the men should have been out of the pit at 6.45 a.m, but at 6.20 the shot-firer stopped to finish a job, the explosion occurred at 6.45 and the shotfirer and the boy assisting him were killed. I doubt whether this would be a case for blaming the management; that is when the whole of the evidence is collected.
On the general complaint about overtime, the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. D. Graham) went back over four years. He overlooked one thing, or perhaps was not aware of it. In 1930 the then Secretary for Mines, Mr. Shinwell, made a special study of the problem of overtime, and as a result of complaints from Scotland invited the Scottish coalowners to set up a special committee to co-operate with a special committee representing the Scottish miners, for dealing with the overtime difficulty and sifting such complaints as were received. The coalowners set up a committee. In January, 1931, Mr. Shinwell addressed a letter to the Scottish Mineworkers' Union inviting them to set up a similar committee. No reply was received to this letter and the scheme therefore dropped. In this case it seems that the omission was not on the part of the owners but on the part of the miners.
That was not my point. The point I raised was that four years ago I attended with a deputation at the Mines Department and a promise was specifically made that, in the event of the decision in a case that was to come before the sheriff or the Court of Session going against the men, the Department was prepared to introduce legislation to deal with the matter and so to put an end to the whole question of overtime.
I did not understand that the hon. Member was raising that issue. I thought it was the issue of Mr. Shinwell's action in 1931, and what had followed, and I have given the facts about that. Since that time, from Scotland as elsewhere, various Secretaries for Mines have received many complaints about the matter. Following the complaints made and the information I have gathered in my travels in the mining districts, where 1015 I met some Members of this House who are very keen on the matter, I offered to make investigation in any district which was selected by the Miners' Federation of Great Britain. I must say that I am at a loss to understand to-day what hon. Members opposite really want. First of all they look at the Overtime Report. Not one of them has had a good word to say for it. Doubt has been thrown on the capability of the inspectors chosen, or upon the method adopted. Straight away there are other hon. Members who come round and say, "Would the Secretary for Mines take it a little further?" I am not encouraged to do so by the Debate this afternoon.
This investigation was made by two competent mining engineers, who had never had any part in the work of the Mines Department and had not been mines inspectors. They went carefully into the facts, and the evidence is in the report for all hon. Members to read. I have asked the representative organisations for their comments. I have asked them all. With regard to the deputies I shall presently ask not only for comments, but for them to meet me with regard to the state of affairs disclosed underground. With regard to other organisations I cannot close my mind to a limited further investigation. With regard to the association of the men with it, I shall give sympathetic consideration to the idea. I did my best to persuade the mineowners to agree to the association of the men with it, but I have no powers in that matter, which is a matter of management, and the responsibility must primarily lie there.
§ Mr. TINKER
Surely the Secretary for Mines is not going to say that he cannot give permission for the men's side to be represented when the employers' side is represented and gives the employers' views?
The problem is a problem of management and the responsibility must lie there. I endeavoured to obtain the good will of the Mining Association for this, and all I can add now is that I am prepared to examine any detailed comments that are given to me by the associations on the Lancashire Report, and in the light of that and what has been said to-day to consider what further steps can be taken.
§ Mr.CHARLES BROWN
I think most of us on this side are very disappointed with what the Secretary for Mines has said on the question of overtime. I hope this is not the last word and that the inquiry which has been undertaken in Lancashire is not the last inquiry to be made. Earlier to-day the Minister told the Committee that up to about a year ago this matter had been raised only spasmodically—that was his word—by some of us asking questions in the House, and that as a result of those questions and consultation with the Miners' Federation he decided to set up this inquiry in Lancashire. Since then most of us have refrained from putting further questions in regard to overtime at particular collieries. I myself have deliberately refrained from putting such questions because I wanted to await the results of the inquiry. I did not refrain because the complaints were less frequent. As a matter of fact in my area they are much more frequent now than they were a year ago. I am having complaints about overtime being worked regularly in various parts of the Notts coalfield. Every one agrees that relatively recently there has been a complete revolution in mining practice. The hon. Member for Abertillery (Mr. Daggar) last year gave evidence in connection with the process of mechanisation in mining. It is rather surprising to me that after a special inquiry over a period of three months the inspectors who have conducted the Lancashire investigation should say—No evidence is forthcoming which points to the necessity for amendment of the Act of 1908 in regard to overtime.That strikes me as very surprising, in view of the complete revolution in mining practice which has taken place. I saw last night the last report of the Secretary for Mines in connection with this matter. I find that coal cut by machinery in 1932 was 80,000,000 tons, or 38 per cent. of the entire output in Great Britain. The report says that in a period of 10 years the proportion of coal cut by machinery has more than doubled. In 1928 less than one-eighth of the entire output of the mines was mechanically transported at or near the actual face, while in 1932 the quantity so dealt with was 56,000,000 tons, or 25 per cent. of the total output. I need not quote any further figures. They have been given 1017 by the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. D. Graham) and the hon. Member for Abertillery. There has been a complete revolution in mining practice. What we say, in spite of the Lancashire Report, is that the regulation framed in 1908 does not fit the circumstances of to-day. What is the regulation? We have it here on the first page of this report:No contravention of the foregoing provisions shall be deemed to take place in the case of any workman who is below ground:for the purpose of rendering assistance in the event of accident, or for meeting any danger or apprehended danger, or for dealing with any emergency or work uncompleted through unforeseen circumstances which requires to be dealt with without interruption in order to avoid serious interference with ordinary work in the mine or in any district of the mine.have been driven to the conclusion that this overtime working on conveyor faces is purely a matter of underground organisation. If the underground organisation is satisfactory there is little or no need for overtime.
I was with the right hon. Member for Ripon (Major Hills) last Friday when a number of us went down one of the Markham Collieries. Let me explain what happened in regard to the test of the automatic gas detector. We were taken on to a coal-cutting face which was about 160 yards in length. At the end of the face there were four Ringrose gas detectors put into position, and of course there was an ordinary flame lamp taken in. The management altered the ventilation to allow an accumulation of gas near the face. We could hear gas sizzling out of the coal face while we were there, and the ordinary test of the flame lamp was applied. What struck us was that the automatic gas detectors absolutely synchronised with the flame lamp when it showed gas present in the workings. To me it was a completely satisfactory test in that particular coal face at any rate. I agree that the Secretary for Mines has to be very careful in what he does before he makes any particular device compulsory for all the mines in Great Britain. His responsibility is very great. But I hope no prejudice of any kind will he shown towards any particular automatic gas detector that may be put forward to serve this purpose of informing men that gas is present in the working place.
That was a digression from my argument. The management did say to us, 1018 "You can talk to the men if you like" and of course we took the opportunity, or I did, of talking to the men away from the manager and away from anyone who had anything to do with the company. Being interested in this question of overtime I asked them whether it was customary for them to work overtime on this particular face. The answer was that at first they did work overtime. I agree that in some ways what they had to say substantiated some paragraphs in the report. But they also said that when the underground organisation was more satisfactory overtime was very infrequent. If it be a question of underground organisation, is it a legitimate argument to put forward that you have to work overtime in the initial stages? I do not think it is.
Now that experience has been accumulated in machine mining, surely a mine management which intends installing machinery Where it was previously not in operation is not unaware of the experience of mine managements elsewhere and can at once adopt underground organisation to meet the new circumstances of machine mining. They do not do that, and I am afraid that what the Secretary for Mines said this afternoon will be an encouragement to them not to adapt underground organisation to the changed circumstances of machine mining rapidly. He seemed to go out of his way—perhaps he thought there would be an attack on this report—to defend it most energetically and passionately. I think he made a mistake in doing that, because mine managements do not attempt in the initial stages to adapt their underground organisation to the changed method which they are introducing. I have a pit in mind which I will not mention by name now, but about which I shall have to put some question in view of what the Secretary has said to-day, where the women folk do not know when the men will come home from work. Overtime is regular and persistent, and innumerable complaints reach us about what is happening. I ask the Secretary for Mines not to make this his last word on the question of overtime. Let him not think that this report settles the matter. I was glad to hear the hon. Gentleman say that he would undertake some further inquiries. I dare say that the mining Members from various parts of the coalfield would put up a claim for the inquiry to 1019 be made in their particular districts. For my part, I should like him to make it in Nottinghamshire. The circumstances there are very peculiar, and there are special reasons why he should make the inquiry in that area.
I am therefore speaking through the Secretary of Mines to the Miners' Federation of Great Britain, and I will ask them, when they are asked by the Minister to name another area for the inquiry, that it should be in the county of Nottingham.
I do not want to be drawn into any controversy about the two unions, but the hon. Member has provoked me, and I will say something about it. I said that there were peculiar circumstances in Nottinghamshire, and I wanted to leave the two unions out of it. There are in that area about 50,000 miners, and perhaps 10,000 of them are in 'what is called the Spencer Union. A similar number is in the Notts Miners' Association, but the great bulk of the miners are not organised at all. From our point of view that is a tragedy, and I dare say that it is in some sense from the owners point of view also. The Spencer Union, as it is called, does not in the ordinary sense of a trade union protect the men in their working conditions. It makes wage arrangements and it handles compensation cases, but it does not concern itself about the day to day conditions of the men working in the industry. The hon. Member for East Nottingham (Mr. Gluckstein) can get up and give any evidence to show
§ that the Spencer Union interests itself in the working conditions
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Captain Bourne)
I am in a difficulty to see where the responsibility for the Secretary for Mines comes in the observations of the hon. Member.
I want to link this to the question of overtime. I did not intend to raise this matter, and it was only.the ardent supporters of the Spencer Union who dragged me into the controversy. I was going to leave it alone 'and just appeal to the Secretary for Mines to choose Nottinghamshire for the inquiry because the circumstances there are peculiar.
There are many other things that might be said, but I know that hon. Members want to get on to another subject. I want to say, however, that I am sorry that the Secretary for Mines made no response to the passionate appeal of the hon. Member for Abertillery in regard to the wages that miners are receiving throughout the coalfield of Great Britain. He told us that the average yearly earnings of the miners in the British coalfield is now £110. This House has recently been voting subsidies for the wheat grower, for the cattle raiser and for the shipowner. I do not know how many more subsidies the House will vote, but if it is going to vote many more, we on these benches are entitled to 'ask, if the miners' wages cannot be improved in any other way, for a subsidy for the mining industry so that the workers can be more adequately rewarded.
Question put, "That a sum, not exceeding £137,100, be granted for the said Service."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 38; Noes, 215.1021
|Division No. 337.]||AYES.||[7.53 p.m.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Grentell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Paling, Wilfred|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Griffiths, George A. (Yorks,W. Riding)||Salter, Dr. Allred|
|Batey, Joseph||Grundy, Thomas W.||Smith, Tom (Normanton)|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydv1)||Thorne, William James|
|Buchanan, George||Healy, Cahir||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Cove, William G.||Jenkins, Sir William||West, F. R.|
|Crippa, Sir Stafford||John, William||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Daggar, George||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)|
|Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Williams, Dr. John H. (Lianelly)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Kirkwood, David||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Dobble, William||Lawson, John James|
|Gardner, Benjamin Walter||Leonard, William||TELLERS FOR THE AYER.—|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark. Hamilton)||Lunn, William||Mr. G. Macdonald and Mr. Groves.|
|Greenwood. Rt. Hon. Arthur||Maxton, James.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir Francis Dyke||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Peat, Charles U.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E.||Percy, Lord Eustace|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.||Perkins, Walter R. D.|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Peters, Dr. Sidney John|
|Albery, Irving James||Hales, Harold K.||Petherick, M.|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Powell. Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick Wcife||Harbord, Arthur||Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)|
|Beillie, Sir Adrian W. M.||Hastam, Henry (Horncastle)||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Hasiam, Sir John (Bolton)||Ramsay T. B. W. (Western Isles)|
|Bainiel, Lord||Headlam, Lieut.-Col.Cuthbert M.||Ramebotham, Herwald|
|Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell||Heligers, Captain F. F. A||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Ray, Sir William|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Cougar||Hepworth, Joseph||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)|
|Bernays, Robert||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Remer, John R.|
|Blaker, Sir Reginald||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Renwick, Major Gustav A.|
|Blindell James||Hoidsworth, Herbert||Rickards, George William|
|Boothby, Robert John Graham||Horsbrugh, Florence||Robinson, John Roland|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M.(Hackney, N.)||Ropner. Colonel L.|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Hume, Sir George Hopwood||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)||Runge, Norah Cecil|
|Brown,Brig.-G en. H. C.(Berks., Newb'y)||Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg)||Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)|
|Burnett, John George||James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.||Salmon, Sir Isidore|
|Burton, Colonel Henry Walter||Jamieson, Douglas||Salt, Edward W.|
|Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm||Janner, Barnett||Sandeman, Sir A. N.|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Jesson, Major Thomas E.||Stewart Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard|
|Carver, Major William H.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Savery, Samuel Servington|
|Cazaiet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)||Scone, Lord|
|Christie, James Archibald||Ker, J. Campbell||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Clarke, Frank||Kerr, LieutCol. Charles(Montrose)||Shaw, Captain William.T. (Forfar)|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Kerr, Hamilton W.||Skelton, Archibald Noel|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Keyes, Admiral Sir Roger||Slater, John|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Leckie, J. A.||Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.|
|Coifox, Major William Philip||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Smith, Sir J. Walker(Barrow-in-F.)|
|Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Smith, Sir Robert (Ab'd'n & K'dine,C.)|
|Conant, R. J. E.||Liddell, Walter S.||Somervell, Sir Donald|
|Cook, Thomas A.||Lindsay, Noel Ker||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)|
|Crooke, J. Smedley||Liewellin, Major John J.||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Croom-Johnson. R. P.||Lockwood, John C. (Hockney,C.)||Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T.E.|
|Crossley, A. C.||Lockwood, Capt. J. H. (Shipley)||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset,yeovil)||Loftus, Pierce C.||Spencer, Captain Richard A.|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||spens, William Patrick|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||MacAndrew, Lt.-Col. C. G. (partick)||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)|
|Dickle, John P.||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Aye)||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'morland)|
|Dixon, Rt. Hon. Herbert||McEwen, Captain J. H. F.||Stevenson, James|
|Doran, Edward||McKie, John Hamilton||Stewart, J. H. (Fife, E.)|
|Drewe, Cedric||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Drummond-Wolff,H. M. C.||Macquisten, Frederick Alexander||Strickland, Captaisi W. F.|
|Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Makine, Brigadier-General Ernest||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Eady, George H.||Mander, Groffrey le M.||sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F.|
|Edmondson, Major Sir James||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart|
|Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Sutcliffe, Harold|
|Eimley, Viscount||Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)||Templeton, William P.|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Mason. Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|Essenhigh, Reginald Clare||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Evans, David Owen (Cardigan)||Milen, Charles||Thorp, Linton Theodore|
|Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||Mitchell, Harold P.(Br'tf'd & Chisw'k)||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Fleming, Edward Lascelles||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Train, John|
|Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Ford, Sir Patrick J.||Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres||Wallace, John (Dunfermline)|
|Fox, Sir Gifford||Morgan, Robert H.||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Fraser, Captain Sir Ian||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Ward, Irene Mary Bewlck (Walisend)|
|Fremantie, Sir Francis||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'ties)||Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)|
|Ganzonl, Sir John||Morrison, William Shepherd||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Gillett, Sir George Masterman||Nall, Sir Joseph||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Glucksteln, Louis Halle||Nation, Brigadler-General J. J. H.||Whyte, Jardine Bell|
|Glyn, Major Sir Ralph G. C.||Nunn, William||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Goff, Sir Park||O'Donovan, Dr. William James||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Young, Ernest J. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Gower, Sir Robert||Orr Ewing, I. L.|
|Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'rl'd, N.)||Owen, Major Goronwy||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro',W.)||Palmer. Francis Noel||Sir George Penny and Sir Walter|
|Grimston, R. V.||Peake, Osbert||Womersley.|
§ Original Question again proposed.1022
§ Motion,by leave, withdrawn.