HC Deb 29 November 1938 vol 342 cc221-2
18. Mr. James Griffiths

asked the Secretary for Mines whether he is aware of the grave concern felt in the coal exporting districts at the fall of nearly 4,000,000 tons in our exports of coal in the first ten months of this year as compared with the comparative period of last year and, in particular, of the reduction of over 2,000,000 tons in our exports to France in the same period; what are the main causes of this reduction; and what steps he is taking to deal with the position?

Captain Crookshank

Yes, Sir. The main cause of this decline in exports is unquestionably the heavy falling off in consumption in foreign markets, which generally speaking has affected other exporting countries to an even greater degree than ourselves. As the hon. Member is aware, the Government neglects no opportunity which offers to further the export trade in coal.

Mr. Griffiths

Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman shortly be in a position to announce what steps he and the industry are proposing to take to deal with this question?

Captain Crookshank

I said last week that as soon as it was possible to make a statement I would do so.

Mr. A. Jenkins

Has the Secretary for Mines any knowledge of the effect of the taking over of the Sudeten land by Germany upon the coal exports, as it is known that 90 per cent. of the coal production in that area has gone to Germany?

Captain Crookshank

That raises a long and complicated question which I cannot answer across the Table at the present time, because all the factors have not yet been made clear either in Germany or elsewhere.

Mr. Shinwell

Can the Minister say whether the reduction in exports to foreign countries is affected by the price level?

Captain Crookshank

I think that the chief reason here is that all the consuming countries are taking less coal from the exporting countries.