HC Deb 16 July 1941 vol 373 cc602-3
55. Mr. Ellis Smith

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he can make a statement on the case presented to the Minister in May and June by the deputation representing miners' organisations and others on the need for improved rations and communal feeding for all employed in the mining industry?

Major Lloyd George

My hon. Friend the Minister of Mines and my Noble Friend are impressed with the need for the improvement of the feeding facilities for miners, and they are doing everything possible to increase the provision of pithead canteens wherever required. Investigation has shown that in most cases snacks such as meat pies, sandwiches, etc., only are required for consumption underground, but in certain areas the men desire facilities to enable them to obtain a full meal on coming up from underground. The Miners' Welfare Commission have undertaken the responsibility for the establishment of additional pithead canteens with the technical assistance of the Ministry of Food. It is estimated that canteens will be required at about 560 pits, in addition to those already in existence. A considerable number are now in course of construction while others, which at present serve only light refreshments, will be expanded. This programme which will ensure a substantial increase in the opportunity of miners obtaining food and meals in close proximity to their work will be completed as soon as possible.

Mr. Smith

As democratic machinery has been evolved in this country for negotiations and consultations to take place through representative organisations, may I ask whether the Mine-workers' Federation have been consulted in this matter?

Major Lloyd George

They have been consulted.

Mr. R. J. Taylor

Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that, while miners will appreciate an increase in canteen arrangements where practicable. there is a tremendous number of pits where there are no pit-head facilities, and in those cases will he give consideration to miners having meat meals in their own homes?

Major Lloyd George

I am sure that my hon. Friend will appreciate the enormous difficulties in "dealing with a question of that sort. We have already tried to meet the position of miners, and the difficulty is to make any further differentiation in rationing. Surely it is not outside the bounds of possibility to have some kind of building where meals can be provided at the pit-head.

Mr. Taylor

Is the Minister aware that a large number of mines have wet working conditions underground and that to meet these conditions it is necessary for miners to have their meals at home?

Mr. Lawson

Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that the normal practice and custom of miners who work at the coal face in Durham make it almost impossible to have a meal down the pit? They go from breakfast until dinner-time. Is he also aware that as a result of practically using up the meat ration at the week-end they have no meat at all for the rest of the week?