HC Deb 20 May 1941 vol 371 cc1377-9
25. Mr. Hannah

asked the Secretary for Mines whether he is aware that the shortage of coal in the Midlands is steadily growing more acute; and will he take steps to get released from the Army men needed in the mines?

The Secretary for Mines (Mr. David Grenfell)

I am aware of the shortage in several areas. Steps are being taken in order to increase the production as rapidly as possible. The suggestion made by the hon. Member is not being overlooked and with other special measures is receiving the consideration of the various Departments concerned.

Mr. Thorne

Is the shortage of coal due to the fact that there are not sufficient engine-men and others to work down the pits?

Mr. Grenfell

There are not sufficient men available for all the operations of coal-getting this summer, and the question of getting men back to the mines is receiving consideration.

Sir W. Davison

Is the Secretary for Mines aware that not only in the Midlands, but in many towns and districts in the South of England, there is a great shortage of coal which has persisted for many months, and that attention has been drawn to it?

Mr. Grenfell

Attention has been drawn to it definitely, and attention has been given to it, and the hon. Member cannot say that there is a great shortage in all areas. There are areas where there are difficulties. We heard of them in the past, and we have given the explanation, but there has been no breakdown, and I am much more concerned about the future than the past

Mr. T. Smith

Is my hon. Friend aware that the coal merchants are complaining that they have not sufficient labour to deal with the adequate distribution of coal?

Mr. Grenfell

There is a shortage of labour both for production and distribution, and the matter is receiving attention.

Mr. Brooke

Will the hon. Gentleman take the House fully into his confidence in this matter, if necessary in Secret Session, because we desire to know the prospective coal situation?

Mr. Grenfell

I can assure the House that the earliest opportunity will be taken to discuss the prospects of coal supply very fully in this House.

Mr. Hannah

Will the Minister carefully consider cases where skilled miners now in the Army would probably be better employed in the national interest in coal mining?

Mr. Grenfell

I hope the remarks of my hon. Friend will be read by other Departments too.

Mr. McKinlay

Will the Secretary for Mines invite Frank Hodges back to produce coal, as he would be doing a much better job than he is doing at the moment?