HC Deb 15 November 1939 vol 353 cc699-700
34. Mr. Paling

asked the Minister of Transport whether he is aware that Yorkshire pits are working short time owing to the shortage of railway wagons; that some pits are reduced to working little more than two-thirds of their capacity; and what steps he is taking to overcome the difficulty?

Captain Wallace

I am not aware that there has been a shortage in the supply of wagons to the Yorkshire collieries to the extent that the hon. Member suggests, and I shall be glad to investigate at once any specific case of shortage on this scale. I know, however, that some difficulties in the supply of wagons in this area have arisen. Consultations have taken place between the representatives of the railways, the Mines Department and the collieries in the area with a view to dealing with the present exceptional circumstances. The main difficulty is the increasing number of wagons which are standing laden with coal. My right hon. Friend, the President of the Board of Trade, and I have recently made an appeal to traders and industrialists to see that wagons are loaded and unloaded with the utmost dispatch. This matter is being closely watched and, if necessary, further steps will have to be taken to expedite the release of wagons.

Mr. Paling

Is the Minister aware that not an individual pit but numbers of pits are not working for nearly one-third of their time? In view of the necessity for these wagons, and the fact that we are being asked to produce 30,000,000 tons more coal this year, is it not time that something drastic was done to make people release wagons which are being held up much longer than they ought to be?

Captain Wallace

My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade and I prefer to proceed at first by what I may call co-operative methods. If the appeal which my right hon. Friend and I have made for the quicker release of these wagons is unsuccessful, we shall have to take other measures.