§ 8. Mr. A. Jenkins
asked the Secretary for Mines in view of the fact that the Agreement made in December last between the Governments of Great Britain and France stipulated that at least 49.5 per cent. of the normal imports of coal by France should be purchased from this country, how does he account for the imports this year being far below the agreed level, and for April last only 21.5 per cent.; and what steps does he propose to take to effect an improvement?
§ Mr. Lloyd
The stipulated percentage to which the hon. Member refers does not apply to total imports, as certain classes of coal, such as that for bunkers and metallurgical purposes, are excluded from the normal quota to which the Agreement applies. I am not yet in possession of the information which would enable me to say whether, during the current year, the share of the trade to which we are entitled has been secured. The hon. Member will, however, appreciate that performance under the Agreement cannot be calculated by reference to a portion only of the year.
§ Mr. Jenkins
May I ask the Minister whether it is or is not a fact that in the Agreement of 10th December last the French did undertake to allow Britain 49.5 per cent. of the normal quota and to limit the licences issued for the importation of coal from Holland, Germany and Poland, and also to wipe out the arrears that had accrued as a result of the timber and coal barter arrangement of 1934, and whether, despite those 190 undertakings, there was during the first quarter of this year as compared with the first quarter of last year a substantial reduction in the amount of coal imported from this country?
§ Mr. Lloyd
I appreciate the hon. Member's anxiety. It is true that there have been difficulties with regard to the coal Agreement with France, but I understand that arrangements have been made whereby it is hoped that the position will improve. I am not in a position at the moment to say definitely whether the Agreement has had the results we desire, because we are at present awaiting the official French figures which are necessary to enable us to say whether or not the Agreement has been fulfilled.