§ Mr. Leonard
(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary for Mines what action he 1149 proposes to take to meet the representations he has received from the Lord Provost of Glasgow asking for immediate supplies of coal to avert severe hardship to families in tenement property and stating that 5,000 tons daily are required?
§ The Secretary for Mines (Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd)
I received last night a telegram from the Lord Provost of Glasgow asking for immediate supplies to avert hardship to families in tenements. The hon. Member and the House, remembering that Glasgow is surrounded by coal mines, will appreciate how acute the transport difficulty has been in that area. In order to meet anticipated difficulty it was arranged on Saturday and Monday last to bring coal specially from the Fife and Lothian coalfields to Glasgow. Those trains also were delayed, but I am glad to say that some have arrived to-day, and that coal is now reaching Glasgow from neighbouring mines. I attach the highest importance to preventing hardship among smaller consumers and the local officers of my Department have instructions and full powers to take all possible action locally that may be necessary.
§ Mr. Leonard
Does the Minister appreciate that a telegram received by several hon. Members of this House from the Lord Provost asserts that Glasgow is suffering from a coal famine and that it is within the knowledge of Members representing Glasgow that that shortage began to display itself prior to the weather to which reference has been made?
§ Mr. Lloyd
No, Sir, I do not think it would be accurate to say that these difficulties began to show themselves prior to the weather difficulties, because the weather difficulties with which the railways have been contending have extended over a considerable time, but I should Eke to point out that the telegram from the Lord Provost was received yesterday, and that since that time the situation has improved, because the coal I have mentioned has arrived—I have just got the information.
§ Mr. Buchanan
Is the Minister aware that attention was called to this matter much earlier than yesterday, that cooperative societies have been refusing orders for coal from their customers and that people cannot get coal? Why has it taken all this time to take the action 1150 which he says has resulted? Is it not a fact that his attention was called almost to days ago to this grave position in Glasgow?
§ Mr. A. V. Alexander
Is the Minister not aware that representations were made to his Department some time ago about the immediate shortage owing to the action of Government Departments other than his requisitioning all coal of under 26s. a ton from pits in the area, and that in consequence there was an immediate shortage of the coal that the poorest class of consumers can afford to buy?
§ Mr. Neil Maclean
Is the Minister not aware that these conditions have been prevailing in Glasgow for the last four or five weeks, that rationing has not been going on as it ought to have gone on, and that complaints have been made; also, that on the south side of Glasgow particularly, people have been out on the streets surrounding coal carts trying to get supplies of coal even late at night? What is he going to do to get something done in the matter at once, namely, to see that the 5,000 tons of coal required in Glasgow get there?
§ Mr. Holdsworth
Is the Minister not aware that there is a shortage all round the country and not alone in Glasgow and is it not due, not to the inclement weather but to the policy of restriction of road transport which has prevented stocks being obtained?