HC Deb 09 November 1937 vol 328 cc1557-9
2. Mr. James Griffiths

asked the Secretary for Mines whether he is aware that the exports of British coal to Newfound- land for the first nine months of this year showed a reduction of 43,072 tons as compared with the corresponding period of 1936; what explanation he can give for this reduction; and what steps he is taking in the matter?

Captain Wallace

I am aware of the facts as stated by the hon. Member. I am advised, however, that the shipping season began abnormally late this year, and that it is as yet too early to say how the figures for the year as a whole are likely to compare with those for 1936.

3. Mr. J. Griffiths

asked the Secretary for Mines whether he is aware that the shipments of coal from the Bristol Channel ports to the Dominion of Canada for the first nine months of this year showed a reduction of 118,051 tons, as compared with the shipments for the corresponding period of 1936, and that the shipments of British coal to Canada have been declining each year since 1933; what explanation he can give for the continued fall in our exports of coal to the Dominion and for the continued increase of exports from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Germany, and Indo-China; and what steps he is taking to prevent the loss of this important market for British coal?

Captain Wallace

I am aware of the facts stated in the first part of the question. With regard to the second part, in the first eight months of 1937 there have been no imports of coal into Canada from Indo-China, and imports from Germany were lower than in the same period in 1936. This is the first year since 1930 in which Russian coal has been imported, but the quantity is limited. The decline in the United Kingdom share of the Canadian market this year is largely accounted for by the increase in imports from the United States, in the price of which, I understand, there has been a substantial reduction this season. The situation is also affected by the brisker Continental demand for United Kingdom anthracite, and by increases in the North Atlantic freight rates. As regards the third part of the question, as the hon. Member is aware, my hon. and gallant Friend is constantly in touch with the position as regards the export trade.

Mr. Shinwell

Can the right hon. and gallant Member say when we are likely to derive any benefit from the Canadian Trade Agreement and the Ottawa Agreement?

Captain Wallace

I am afraid I cannot answer that question without notice.

Mr. J. Griffiths

Is it not time for the Government to remember that we are rapidly losing this market? Are they not ashamed of the fact that they cannot keep a market which the Labour Government got?

Mr. Radford

Is the hon. and gallant Member aware that in the case of another market where the Government have taken appropriate steps to try to reopen it for coal, hon. Members opposite took them to task very severely last night?

14. Mr. Kennedy

asked the Secretary for Mines whether his attention has been called to the serious fall in British coal exports to foreign and Dominion markets; whether he is satisfied that the fall is not due to the high prices for coal imposed through the central selling schemes; and what action he proposes to take to help the industry?

Captain Wallace

Coal exports from the United Kingdom were nearly 2,000,000 tons higher in the 12 months subsequent to 1st August, 1936, the date on which the central selling schemes came into operation, than in the preceding 12 months. With regard to the last part of the question, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given on 29th October to my hon. Friend the Member for Newport (Sir R. Clarry).