HC Deb 22 January 1942 vol 377 cc396-7
17. Mr. Simmonds

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is, aware of the public concern at the loss of coal production caused by strikes in the East Kent coalfield; and whether, in the national interest, he has made, or proposes to make, the powers conferred upon him by the Essential Work Order applicable to the coal-mining industry?

Mr. Bevin

Undertakings in the coal-mining industry are, with few exceptions, scheduled under the Essential Work Order applicable to that industry. I ought to point out, however, that the provisions with regard to the illegality of strikes and lock-outs are contained in the Conditions of Employment and National Arbitration Order, which is of general application, and not in the Essential Work Orders.

Mr. Simmonds

Can my right hon. Friend assure the House that in the case of these unfortunate strikes it is his policy to take action himself and not to throw that responsibility on the employers?

Mr. Bevin

I have not thrown anything on the employers, and I would suggest that employers should not try to anticipate my action.

Mr. Thorne

Can the Minister say whether these men are members of the Miners' Federation and whether the executive of that Federation has made any effort to get a settlement?

Mr. Bevin

I cannot enter into the merits or demerits of a dispute which is now sub judice.

Mr. Gallacher

Should not the Minister put some employers in gaol as an example?