HC Deb 04 March 1942 vol 378 c653
72. Mr. Banfield

asked the Secretary for Mines whether, in view of the difficulties of coal distributors through shortage of labour, he will give a direction to local authorities to arrange for delivery of coal in their areas to those people who otherwise would suffer cold and hardship?

The Secretary for Mines (Mr. David Grenfell)

In several districts, where local difficulties in effecting deliveries have been encountered, very welcome assistance has been given by the local authorities concerned, as regards both labour and vehicles. Divisional Coal Officers have been encouraged to seek such assistance where necessary. On no occasion to my knowledge has a local authority, with labour and vehicles to spare, refused to assist.

Mr. Banfield

Will the Minister give instructions to his local officers to inquire from the local authorities what they are doing in the matter, because the situation is serious in some parts of the country?

Mr. Grenfell

My hon. Friend will know that during the last few days this matter has been given very close attention, and if he knows of any particular locality which requires immediate attention, perhaps he will let me know.

Mr. T. Smith

Has any progress been made with regard to the distribution scheme?

Mr. Grenfell

That is a very large question. There is a shortage of transport in some areas and also a shortage of labour, but what is needed is more mutual co-operation within the trade itself.

Mr. G. Griffiths

If there is a shortage of labour at the present time, why is it that this very vital labour is still being called up, and should not that be stopped?

Mr. Grenfell

I think that the number of cases where men are called up is very small indeed.