HC Deb 12 February 1942 vol 377 cc1579-80
30. Sir J. Mellor

asked the Home Secretary whether, in view of the loss of coal production caused by the unlawful stop page of work at the Betteshanger Colliery, he will state his reasons for recommending the release of the three men, who had been sentenced to imprisonment by the magistrates?

Mr. H. Morrison

I have nothing to add to the statement which I made in answer to a Question by the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Sloan) on 3rd February, except to say that my decision to advise remission of the remainder of the sentences in these cases was taken after carefully weighing all the relevant considerations.

Sir J. Mellor

Having regard to the loss of 21,000 tons of coal, is my right hon. Friend aware that his release of these men has created a most unfortunate impression in the country?

Mr. Morrison

The House will realise that it is not customary for the Home Secretary to give reasons for recommending remission of sentences. I do not think that I can go beyond what I said in my answer to my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire, when I stated: While I do not in any way question the propriety of the action taken by the justices on the facts before them, I regard the amicable settlement of the dispute as an earnest of the determination of the workers at the Bettishanger Colliery to make the fullest contribution to the national effort and in these circum stances I felt justified in recommending the remission of the remainder of the sentences of imprisonment imposed on the miners' leaders."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd February, 1942; col. 1059, Vol. 377.] I think that the action taken meets the requirements and the British desire for fair play.

Sir J. Mellor

As my right hon. Friend stated that he had consulted the magistrates, will he say whether the magistrates concurred in his decision?

Mr. Morrison

I do not think that it would be right for me to answer that question.

Mr. Kirkwood

It is a mischievous question.

Mr. James Griffiths

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the action taken in this matter has helped to ease the position?

Mr. Morrison

I hope that that will be the case.

Mr. Lawson

In view of the publicity which this matter has had is the country, may I ask whether my right hon. Friend is aware that this industry has been remark ably free from trouble during the war?