HC Deb 15 June 1937 vol 325 cc191-2
39. Mr. A. Jenkins

asked the Secretary for Mines the total subsidy per ton of coal exported from Germany during 1936 and for the first five months of this year; and whether any negotiations are now proceeding with the object of bringing about a discontinuance of subsidies on export coal?

Captain Crookshank

There is no uniform rate of subsidy per ton of coal exported from Germany. It is estimated, however, that in 1936 the gross proceeds of the levy of the Rhenish-Westphalian Syndicate amounted to about RM.374 million, and in the first quarter of 1937 to about R M.ro5 million. Later information is not available. These sums, less expenses for administration, were, therefore, available for assisting the syndicate's sales of coal in contested markets both inland and export, but in what proportion is not known to me. With regard to the second part of the question, the Government have repeatedly stated that they regard an international marketing agreement as the appropriate solution of the problems of the coal export trade, but, as I informed the hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) on 23rd March, this is a matter for the trade itself.

40. Mr. Jenkins

asked the Secretary for Mines whether his attention has been called to the increase in the export of coal from Germany during the first four months of this year; that the coal was sold to countries which formerly got their supplies from this country; to what extent this increase in the quantity of coal exported from Germany is attributable to heavy subsidisation; and what steps does he propose to take to protect the British export coal trade?

Captain Crookshank

I am aware of the increase in German coal exports this year. Exports from other European countries including Poland and the United Kingdom have also increased. A discussion of the relative importance of the various factors underlying both the general increase and the proportion in which it has been shared by different countries could hardly be compressed within the limits of a reply to a question. With regard to the last part of the question, I am not clear as to what the hon. Member has in mind. He will recall that, as my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour informed the House on 9th March, the coal industry's request for financial assistance for coal exports has been withdrawn for the time being.

Mr. Jenkins

Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that the increase in the exports of coal from Germany in the first four months of this year amounts to about 40 per cent., as compared with an increase of only 10 per cent. in the case of this country, and does he not regard that as being of sufficient importance to take immediate steps to help the trade and make some arrangement in order to secure a fair share of export trade for this country?

Mr. J. Griffiths

Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman make representations to the Foreign Office that, unless effective action is taken, we shall soon lose another important market for British and Welsh coal in Spain?