HC Deb 19 November 1940 vol 365 cc1812-3
27. Mr. Cocks

asked the Secretary for Mines whether in view of the congestion on the railways and the reduced coastwise transport of coal, he will take steps to increase the transport of coal from the pit-head by road; and whether he will consider approaching the military authorities for the assistance in this work of units of the Royal Army Service Corps and their lorries?

Mr. Grenfell

Steps are already being takL ti in certain areas in the Midlands to increase the transport of coal by road, and similar action will be taken in other areas as may be practicable. I shall certainly be glad to ask the Minister of Transport to approach the military authorities for assistance should this prove to be necessary.

Mr. Cocks

Is the Minister aware that in Nottinghamshire pits are often working short-time because they cannot get away their coal, while many R.A.S.C. lorries are seen to be travelling along the roads empty?

Mr. Grenfell

It is quite true that many pits have been compelled to lose time because transport facilities have not been adequate for the task of removing the coal. The hon. Gentleman asked me whether road transport could help. I believe it can, and we are taking steps to see that it is brought into use wherever possible.

Mr. Thorne

Is not one of the difficulties privately-owned wagons? Why do not the Government take over the lot?

Mr. Grenfell

I am not quite sure that the main difficulty is, as is sometimes suggested, a shortage of wagons. Anyone who travels by rail anywhere in this country will see more wagons than he ever imagined existed. It is not so much a problem of wagons as the nature and flow of traffic which is responsible.