HC Deb 16 December 1943 vol 395 cc1724-42

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

Major-General Sir Frederick Sykes (Nottingham, Central)

I should like to say a word or two upon this Clause in order to give to the Committee any information that may be available in regard to the position of the three main activities of the Miners' Welfare Fund—pit-head baths, canteens, and rehabilitation centres. It would take too long to-day, although I should have liked to do so, to touch on all the other activities for which the Commission is responsible, such as Scholarships, recreational schemes, convalescent homes and others.

The construction of pit-head baths was stopped in the middle of the programme owing to war exigencies. I should like, however, to let the Committee know that there are now 362 pit-head baths completed. That covers 419,146 men or a percentage figure of 57. The collieries remaining to be dealt with, including 660 which employ fewer than 50 men each, total 1326 and cover 322,057 men, or 43 per cent. Under that last group come 12 baths which were left unfinished owing to war requirements, covering 13,334 men, and four baths for 1,710 men now being completed because they are essential for coal production. While the Miners' Welfare Commission are most anxious and eager to get on with and complete the baths programme, it is impossible in war-time conditions to do so owing to the shortness of labour and material. It is also doubtful whether the special equipment required for baths would be obtainable, the factories making it having been turned over to munitions work. I should like however to assure the Committee that we shall press on with it at the earliest possible moment and that we have schemes in hand and waiting to be set in motion directly that is possible.

A word on the canteen position. It will be remembered that the Government asked the Miners' Welfare Commission to instal canteens throughout the coalfields, and this has been and is being done. Out of 1,028 collieries employing more than 50 men each, 893 employing 95 per cent. of all the men engaged in the industry have canteens now operating. Of these 893, full meals are served at the canteens of 415 collieries employing 50 per cent. of all the mineworkers. When the canteens under construction or in preparation have been completed the percentages will be 98 and 70 respectively. The Commission's officers have been in touch with all the remainder and arrangements are being made as and where possible to carry out those which are still required. It is always a principle adopted that the canteens erected and installed are of the type desired by the men in the colliery concerned. The use made of the canteens, although not as full as might be desired, compares not unfavourably I understand with that made of factory canteens, if account is taken of all the men using the canteens whether for snap or snacks as well as those taking full meals. The proportion taking full meals averages only about 30 per cent. I would like, in connection with the canteen programme, to thank the Ministry of Food and the Ministry of Works for all their help and co-operation. The carrying into effect of the programme has meant an enormous amount of work on the part of the staff of the Commission which is very attenuated, and it is progressing satisfactorily considering the difficult conditions under which we are working. The main difficulty in regard to canteens, as in regard to rehabilitation, on which I shall touch in a moment, is that of labour. Even if we get the labour, it is sometimes difficult to ensure its retention, and this inevitably throws out the whole programme of work. We are, however, in touch with the Ministry of Labour on this head, and we hope to get matters a little more stabilised in that connection.

The third large programme, of which I am sure the Committee would like to hear, is that of rehabilitation centres. This big scheme is also one which the Government have asked the Commission to take up. Two centres are now in operation. The number of centres in preparation, one being non-resident, is five, and the remainder, to cover the whole of the coalfields, are being provided in collaboration with the hospitals in the areas. Those which are being catered for directly by the Miners' Welfare Commission cover 64 per cent. of the industry, and those which are being catered for by the hospitals, in collaboration with the Miners' Welfare Commission, total 36 per cent. It may interest the Committee to know that I am officially opening a centre at Talygarn for the South Wales, Forest of Dean, Somerset and Bristol area on Saturday and we hope that it will be a very satisfactory installation. In the rehabilitation programme the main difficulty lies in getting medical officers and staff for the various installations which we are organising.

I should like to take one more moment to thank on behalf of the Commission all concerned for the help which they have given us in this work. Not only Members of Parliament for mining constituencies, but leaders in the industry; both men and owners have co-operated wholeheartedly during the period in which I have had the privilege of being chairman of this Commission—now nearly 10 years. The members of the Commission and staff, the 25 District Committees and the very large number of sub-committees (some 1,400) all feel that it is very fine work and are grateful to be able to take a part in it. We have of course our difficulties here and there but throughout the whole length and breadth of the coalfields the co-operation has been first rate. We are getting ahead with the work and we hope that it will be to the satisfaction and assistance not only of the workers of this vital industry but of the country as a whole.

Mr. Price (Forest of Dean)

I wish to thank the right hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just explained the purposes of this Bill to the Committee and also to say that I am very glad indeed that it is proposed to push on with this work of providing washing facilities, pit-head baths and canteens in the collieries as far as it is possible at the present time. Not so long ago I wrote to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman about a canteen in my constituency, advocating the provision of full meals wherever possible and he replied to me rather cautiously. Perhaps he was wise, because I have learned since that the full meal canteens, especially one in my constituency, have not been very well attended. Apparently one has to be careful in this respect and there are many considerations to be borne in mind. From inquiries which I have made, however, it appears that in the particular case to which I refer, no washing facilities were available. That has since been rectified but it would seem that canteens, on the whole, are not so well attended where there are no washing facilities or pit-head baths.

The reason I gather is that the miners do not like to come up from their work dirty, and sit down to a meal without having a wash and that is very understandable. I think if the miner is able to avail himself of washing facilities or, better still, pit-head baths when he comes from his work, he is much more likely to wish to sit down in the canteen to a proper meal. In other cases in my constituency where pit-head baths are provided, full meals are not provided but only light refreshments. I think that in cases where there are pit-head baths, full meals could possibly be provided in the canteens, but that the experiment might not be so successful at those places where there are no washing facilities or no pit-head baths. I believe that the provision of these facilities at collieries would play an important part in connection with our coal output. I know that the real troubles behind this question are different and that we cannot discuss them here to-day. But a measure which would enable the miner who is performing such arduous and dangerous work to get additional food would have an effect ultimately on coal output and anything which can be done with the assistance of this Fund to provide washing facili- ties and canteens will be most useful. It will be money well invested which will come back to the nation ultimately in increased output, although, of course, that is not to say that there are not other problems which must be tackled because they are really fundamental. I thank the right hon. and gallant Gentleman for his statement and I hope that, as far as is possible, in view of present difficulties about priorities in materials, he will push on with the work of providing both pit-head baths and canteens.

Mr. Mander (Wolverhampton, East)

I think I am the only surviving Member in the House of the Departmental Committee on the Miners' Welfare Fund which was appointed in 1930 by the hon. Member for Seaham (Mr. Shinwell) then Secretary for Mines. I am very glad that this Measure has been introduced and I am sure that the terms of the Clause which we are discussing are in accordance with the recommendations which we made. We recommended that when the condition of the industry justified it, the levy of one penny should be maintained. It is satisfactory that it has been maintained now for a considerable period and I hope it will be maintained for ever. The work of the Miners' Welfare Fund has been extraordinarily successful. It has produced a spirit of good will and co-operation, which had been sadly lacking in the mining industry, and I hope that the precedent set here may be applied to other industries where there is a similar lack of welfare facilities. I was delighted to hear the report given by my right hon. and gallant Friend on the work which is being done and is in contemplation. My constituents will benefit from that work although only to a small extent, because my constituency is just on the edge of the coal field but the country as a whole and this great national industry will benefit enormously by the admirable work which he and his committee have been doing for so long and which they will continue to do now, I am glad to say with unabated resources.

The Chairman

We are discussing the question whether Clause 1 should stand part of the Bill, and the hon. Member who last spoke was not in Order in discussing the application of a similar principle to other industries. I hope other hon. Members will not follow him.

Mr. Sloan (South Ayrshire)

I should like to add my appreciation of the statement made by the right hon. and gallant Member for Central Nottingham (Sir F. Sykes). As representing a mining constituency, I can assure him that the work of the Commission has been appreciated to the full. I am not sure that I could say as much about his statement in regard to the baths position. It is unfortunate that the erection of baths has been slowed down. A serious effort ought to be made to build baths. Their provision was begun before the war, and it is rather pathetic to see baths left in a half-erected condition and no progress whatever being made towards completing them, although miners are in need of bath facilities. One can visit a place month after month and find that no notable measure of progress has been made, and that state of things ought not to be allowed to continue. It is true that there are labour difficulties, but labour is found for a great deal of other work which is not of any more importance than the provision of pithead baths. Labour is being released for other purposes, and why cannot some of it be used for the provision of these baths, which are so desirable and necessary? We were a long time in getting into action in regard to this matter. A certain number of prejudices had to be overcome and then funds were not provided, though when at last we did get into operation we were making rapid progress. In my own county some 60 per cent. of the miners are provided with bath accommodation, and the other 40 per cent. are now awaiting their turn and I would urge the necessity of getting on with things. Priorities should be granted for materials and labour for these baths.

The Chairman

That point really does not arise upon this Clause.

Mr. Sloan

I think it arises out of the statement made by the right hon. and gallant Member for Central Nottingham. He mentioned baths and canteens and the whole purpose of Clause 1 is to secure the finance for these objects. It appears to me there is not much object in our discussing baths if we are not to discuss the purpose to which the levy is to be applied.

The Chairman

I do not want to restrict the hon. Member unduly, but he was making a plea for priority for materials and labour, and that certainly does not arise under this Clause.

Mr. George Griffiths (Hemsworth)

Shall we not be able to follow the speech of the right hon. and gallant Member for Central Nottingham (Sir F. Sykes)? He eulogised the work done in the matter of canteens and baths and rehabilitation, and some of us are very keen about all three things, and possibly something else which is in Part I. Almost everything concerned with miners' welfare work is in Part I, because it depends upon the 1d. per ton levy.

The Chairman

That may be the case in regard to the money, but not as to labour and materials. I was not aware that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Central Nottingham (Sir F. Sykes) was going to take quite the line which he did take, for his remarks might have been more appropriate to the Third Reading, but as he has made them I think I ought, within limits, to allow the Committee to follow suit, but I hope they will not digress from Clause 1 as it stands in the Bill because it is rather limited, merely providing for the continuation of the Section of the original Act extending the operations of the Mining Industry Welfare Fund.

Mr. G. Griffiths

Suppose we pass the Clauses straight away within two minutes and get on to the Third Reading, then we could talk about anything we like.

The Chairman

The hon. Member would be wrong. He would then only be entitled to speak on what is in the Bill.

Sir F. Sykes

I am very sorry if I transgressed, but I said what I did in the hope that it would clear the way for an understanding of the position.

Mr. Evelyn Walkden (Doncaster)

On a point of Order. Clause 1 does deal with the sum of money which is to be available, and the right hon. and gallant Member for Central Nottingham (Sir F. Sykes), when speaking of what had been done, explained the good intentions of the Commission which will receive this money. What I want to ask is whether we are not in a position to express our dissent from the way in which certain things are being done and our disappointment with the inadequacy of the efforts made by the Commission for which the right hon. and gallant Member has been speaking.

The Chairman

The hon. Member would, of course, be in Order as long as he related his remarks to Clause 1.

Mr. Sloan

I have felt in a difficulty and I asked my hon. Friend the Member for Dunfermline (Mr. McLean Watson) what I should talk about. He said, "Talk about nothing and you will get on all right." I do not want to prolong my remarks, but I thought we had an opportunity to press upon the right hon. and gallant Member the necessity of getting on with the baths. The question of canteens looms large, and it is necessary to pass this Clause before we can get the funds to provide them. I would say to an hon. Friend who spoke earlier that there are several reasons why canteens are not so extensively used in mining as in other industries. It is not fair to compare miners' canteens with canteens in industries where there is a definite break for meals. That may account for the fact that the canteens have not been so extensively used as they might have been. I want to make the point that there is no break in a miner's working day for a meal. A miner comes up from the pit in a dirty, filthy state. Miners have to choose between running for a bus or train and getting home to a meal that may be prepared for them—in many cases an imaginary meal—or taking a meal at the colliery and losing the bus. It is therefore not fair to say that the miners are not anxious to participate in these canteens. Where the canteens are built near the villages so that the men can take a meal and then go home, they are extensively used, but where there is the possibility of losing their buses or trains, then, naturally, they have to make their choice, and the choice is to get home.

I should like to ask my hon. Friend what degree of permanency we are going to secure with regard to this question of rehabilitation. Is it just a temporary measure, or has there been any definite conclusion arrived at that this scheme of rehabilitation will be in any sense permanent? One Scottish welfare centre has secured very fine premises at the Gleneagles Hotel, where the millionaires used to go to play golf, and part of it is allocated to the miners for rehabilitation purposes, but the possibility is that the millionaires will want to go back to Gleneagles when the war is over and that the miners will be ejected from the place. Can we have any idea from my hon. Friend or from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Mines as to the degree of permanency that we can expect in regard to this question of rehabilitation, because, if we can have an answer to that question, it will help us very much indeed. I greatly appreciate the work which has been done and the fact that the Bill has again been produced. I am also pleased to hear about the Fund, but I do hope that permanency will exist in this matter.

Mr. George Griffiths (Hemsworth)

I am very pleased that the Miners' Welfare Fund has extended its benefits until 1951. We were very much alarmed in the mining districts when the statement was circulated in the Press that the penny was going to be reduced to a halfpenny. The outcry was very strong, because if there is any name in the world that the miners, their wives, their children and their children's children reverence, it is the name of Lord Sankey. It was Lord Sankey who presided over the great Commission which included such greatly loved men as Smillie, Herbert Smith and others. That Commission revealed to this country a state of things in the mining villages that a lot of people in the British Isles never thought prevailed. One of the recommendations of the Commission is one which I must not talk about, because it was a recommendation that public ownership should take place. I must not touch on that; the time is not opportune.

I can remember that when I was a lad—it is some years ago now—there were four of us coming home from the pits, and my mother had to heat the water on a fire in a little pitman's cottage for four miners to wash with. It used to take us nearly a couple of hours before we got that out of the way. I am very glad that that sort of thing does not prevail today in the major mining districts of the British Isles. Pit-head baths, as has been stated by my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Sloan), must take precedence over the canteens, because a man wants a wash. After a clean-up he is prepared, generally speaking, to have his meal, and I am quite sure that the chairmen of the Miners' Welfare Committee and the Welfare Commission that sit at the present time will agree with me that the biggest percentage of cooked meals in the canteens is taken where there are pit-head baths. I cited a case when I was on the other side of this House ten days ago of a man who worked a large number of shifts and who had to travel five miles each way in a bus in his black face because there was no pit-head bath. The foundations for pit-head baths at his pit had been prepared, but the baths have not been built on account of the war. That man travelled ten miles, and then, on top of that, he travelled another two and a half miles down the pit, walking in and walking out, and then had to go home in a filthy condition. I am hoping that we shall get the money and be able to start pit-head baths. I feel that baths should be given priority over canteens in the future.

One word, if I may, on this rehabilitation scheme. I went along with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Pensions to Mansfield, and I was delighted with the day I spent there. I saw men who had been crocked up, some with broken legs, others with broken spines or other very serious injuries, but these men had the joy of life in them, because, although they were not permanently cured of their injuries, they had great hopes that they would be able to get back to their work. That is a great thing with the miner. He does not want to do dataling if he is a coal-face worker. One of the reasons why he does not want that is because a man who is at the coal face gets little more money than if he is dataling. If he is dataling, he thinks he is a drag on the concern. These men at Mansfield felt that they were going to get back to their work. I am pleased that the chairman has stated that we are going to extend these rehabilitation centres. I can speak about these things because I was a member of a miners' welfare committee in South Yorkshire for 15 years, and I know the benefits that accrue. I had the wife of a miner at my house the other day, and she said, "Our Sam has come back from the miners' convalescent home, and he has put on ten pounds in weight in a fortnight and is now ready for work." So all the pit-head baths, canteens and other social amenities are without doubt very acceptable. I am delighted that the Miners' Welfare Fund is going on until 1951, and after that I hope it is going on for eternity.

Mr. Maclean Watson (Dunfermline)

I welcome the statement that has been made by the chairman of the Welfare Commission. Before the war we used to discuss the Welfare Fund, and there were then two objects in view, baths and miners' institutes. No miners' institutes have been erected during the war, although they were very warmly welcomed, especially by miners in outlying villages. I dare say that if the money were available now, miners' institutes would again figure in the programme of the Welfare Commission. I welcome also the maintenance of the penny per ton. If there had been a reduction in the amount of money coming into the Fund we should have found ourselves in difficulties, not only during the war but afterwards. The baths programme is not nearly completed. We want more bathing facilities at a number of collieries that will still continue to operate for some years.

Since the war began there have been new developments in amenities and in the facilities for rehabilitation. When a miner met with an accident before the war, he got his compensation if the accident was received in the course of his employment, and he was usually treated in a hospital if it was serious, and then he went home until he was able to return to his work. Now we have had a beginning made with rehabilitation. I was pleased to hear the chairman speak with such enthusiasm of the progress that has been made in that direction. I hope we shall have more rehabilitation in the future than in the past. I hope also that the Welfare Commission will not surrender Gleneagles Hotel after the war is over. I hope that the hotel business will be dropped and that the place will be called "The Gleneagles Convalescent Home" or "Rehabilitation Centre" and that it will not be a place where millionaires can go to enjoy themselves. We have had enough of that in the past. The hotel is serving a much more useful purpose at the moment than it was before the war, and I hope that miners in Scotland who are injured and require treatment will be looked after in a place like Gleneagles Hotel. It is none too good for the men who are producing coal in Scotland.

I welcome the maintenance of the penny per ton. Miners are raising no objection to it, and anyone who begins to talk about miners being hard and stingy is saying something which is simply not true. The miners welcome the welfare machinery in the industry, as well as the baths and the institutes, and no objection has been taken to the programme that is now being carried out by the Welfare Commission in regard to amenities and rehabilitation with the changes that are being made above ground and the changes being made below ground, I cannot understand the opposition that comes from certain quarters in this House to young men being directed to the mines.

The Chairman

That subject does not arise on this Clause.

Mr. Watson

Perhaps not, Major Milner, but I have to confess that I have been surprised at the outcry that has been raised. There is no comparison, either above or below ground, between the conditions at present and even those which I knew when I left the mines, and there should not be so much objection to people being induced to go into the mines. Miners are supposed to have made good wages, which induced them to stay there, but now there are other inducements. The miners hope that all the money possible will be kept in the Miners' Welfare Fund for the purpose of making conditions in the mines better and more attractive. I welcome the Clause.

Mr. Evelyn Walkden (Doncaster)

I do not wish to follow the line taken by the hon. Member who has just sat down, because whatever changes may have taken place in the mining industry it is still the dirtiest and filthiest job known to mankind.

Mr. W. Joseph Stewart (Houghton-le-Spring)

It is not. It may be dirty, but it is not filthy.

Mr. Walkden

I am maintaining that it is the most distasteful job that I know. I have known many jobs, but nothing quite like it. I support Clause 1. Changes have been effected. I should have liked to have put many questions to the right hon. and gallant Member for Central Nottingham (Sir F. Sykes) in regard to the Clause, but I believe the Parliamentary Secretary is responsible for the way in which the money is spent, so I can only suggest that we have not had the right kind of explanation up to now why certain things that ought to have been done have not been done with the money previously voted.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Fuel and Power (Mr. Tom Smith)

Specify them.

Mr. Walkden

I will specify them. I am unhappy about the suggestions made by the hon. Members for Hemsworth (Mr. G. Griffiths), Forest of Dean (Mr. Price) and South Ayrshire (Mr. Sloan) about the shortage or the absence of baths. I cannot understand why the Minister of Fuel and Power has not gone to the Supply Committee or to some other Department and asked for equal treatment with the Service Departments in the matter of supplying mobile or emergency baths. During the next 12 months the Parliamentary Secretary and the Minister can do a considerable amount of work with the money to which we are now being asked to agree. I believe we could find typical samples of baths that could be constructed or erected close to pit-heads, not of a permanent character but sufficiently so to meet emergencies, where-ever canteens are opened. It is no use saying that we are not able to adapt ourselves to new circumstances. We can do it. The truth is, as the hon. Member for Hemsworth said, that wherever there are pit-head baths side by side with canteens, the hot meal canteens get more customers. Why? Because people do not feel comfortable with merely washing their hands or faces. They want a real good bath.

Will the Parliamentary Secretary endeavour during the next few months to persuade some of the Supply Departments to erect baths, perhaps somewhat similar to what we have seen in the American camps or in our own military camps in this country? They should be erected where canteens are open. Will the Parliamentary Secretary give us an undertaking that no more canteens will be opened until there are emergency bathing facilities to go with them? I believe that the hon. Member is as worried as we are why so few people are using the canteens in some areas. I would like to take housewives to the canteens and show them what good value their husbands are getting, and urge them to browbeat their husbands to go to the canteens, where they could get good value for their money.

Mr. Tom Smith

As it is essential that we should get the Bill before a certain time, perhaps it will be as well if I say now what I have to say. I suppose that this is one of the few Bills dealing with mining that can pass through the House without raising very violent controversy. That is because since 1930 we have seen in mining districts the value of the penny per ton levy. The hon. Member for Hemsworth (Mr. G. Griffiths) said that miners would always revere the name of Sankey. It is true that when, in 1920, the Mining Industry Act created the Miners' Welfare Fund, Parliament did the mining industry a good turn. Out of the money there have been developed many social amenities, such as hospitals and convalescent homes and things too numerous to mention. Not the least of these developments was when the Miners' Welfare Commission started to pay attention to washing facilities at the pit. It is also true to say that we have been very backward as a country, compared with some others, with regard to the provision of washing facilities at collieries. In 1911, when Parliament made provision for it, it was so surrounded with limitations that it proved to be impracticable. Until after the last war no progress was made, but then an effort was made to establish washing facilities. There was a change in the attitude of the men.

Mr. R. J. Taylor (Morpeth)

And a change in the owners too.

Mr. Smith

Yes, certainly. We have seen a good deal of change with regard to the need of baths on both sides of the industry. At my own pit the proposal was turned down many years ago, but in 1925 I had the privilege of being present at the opening of baths at that pit-head. To-day, 60 per cent. of the men in the industry are employed at collieries where baths are provided. It is a definite object of this Bill to provide money up to 1951, when the whole question of miners' welfare comes up for reconsideration, in order to provide and hasten washing facilities at every colliery in the country. The Miners' Welfare Commission, in conjunction with the Minister of Fuel and Power, are in consultation with the Minister of Works to get a relative priority. I think I can assure the Committee—I have sufficient evidence here—that the Minister of Fuel and Power has the keenest determination to get this baths programme going as quickly as possible.

Mr. E. Walkden

Temporary structures?

Mr. Smith

I am coming to the points in proper sequence. The hon. Member asked whether we had been to certain of the Ministries to stake out our claim for certain things; undoubtedly we have. We have had some terrific arguments. It was only when we were faced with certain objections that there had to be somewhat of a slowing down. It might be useful to point out that when the Government decided in 1940 to stop the erection of pit-head baths owing to labour and other difficulties, there were 38 baths under construction. Twenty-four of them were completed, and 14 had to be stopped at various stages short of completion because the delivery of all materials and equipment could not be guaranteed. Since then six of them have been proceeded with, and we are constantly considering how best we can meet immediate needs, particularly when we are asking certain men to go into certain pits. I think I can assure my hon. Friend the Member for Doncaster (Mr. E. Walkden) that we will lose no opportunity of providing what facilities we can.

With regard to canteens, I agree with my hon. Friend that there are more people using full meal canteens where there are baths than at collieries where there are not baths. I know that some collieries that have not pit-head baths have provided washing facilities for hands. My hon. Friend may take it that we shall not delay in taking any opportunity of improving that side. It is perfectly true that the spending of this welfare money does bring in the question of canteen facilities generally, and the question of rehabilitation. With regard to the progress that has been made in canteens, that has been dealt with in Parliamentary question and answer, and therefore I do not need to weary the Committee now.

Regarding rehabilitation, the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Sloan) asked a perfectly fair question as to what guarantee could be given that this rehabilitation will be continued after the war. I think he and I were at Gleneagles at the opening of that very fine hotel as a rehabilitation centre. He will be interested to know that a certain gentleman up there said to me at the opening, "How long do you think you will want this hotel?" I said, "As long as it is doing useful work." With regard to the future, I think I can say this, having had the privilege of presenting to the Government the Report of the Committee that sat on medical services for miners, you can take it for granted that this rehabilitation has come to stay in the mining industry. If, after the war, we get a general scheme of rehabilitation, it may be possible to dovetail the miners' scheme in. That will be a matter for discussion later, but I think none can deny that there would be such a row in the mining industry if anybody attempted to limit that rehabilitation. And always remember that we rehabilitate not merely to get a man fit to get back to the pit and win coal for the war effort, but because it is the humane thing to do to get an injured man fit as quickly as possible. I can tell my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire that he may take it for granted that this rehabilitation has come to stay.

Mr. Gallacher (Fife, West)

Have the rehabilitation centres we now have come to stay?

Mr. Smith

In reply to that, I would say that I cannot, and nobody else can, say that particular buildings now in existence will stay after the war. I have no authority for saying that. We were very much indebted to the Scottish Board of Health for the facilities they have provided for Scotland. While we cannot say that a particular building will remain for all time after the war, one can say this, that the facilities for rehabilitation will continue as long as there is a need for them in the mining industry.

The only other thing I have to say is that this extension of the welfare penny levy from the end of 1943 to the end of 1951 is a very welcome thing. My hon. Friend the Member for Hemsworth talked about the alarm. He need not be alarmed. There was no intention on the part of my right hon. Friend of limiting in any shape or form the provision of pit-head baths. The only discussion was whether it was wiser to get the money now or leave it until after the war. Finally it was decided to get the money now, and that is the purpose of this Bill. I predict it will have a very smooth passage and that we shall ultimately see the benefit.

One final point. Some time, possibly on the Estimates, would it not be a good thing to have a fairly general discussion on the progress that has been made in miners' welfare? If we do that, we may dispel a good deal of ignorance about the British mining industry, and we may be able to show that some real progress has been made. I do not hesitate to say—I have the statement I used a few weeks ago in one colliery district showing the progress that has been made since the Welfare Fund was established in 1920—that it is really remarkable progress, although, as the Chairman of the Welfare Commission has said, you do get differences in administration; but on the whole there has been a remarkable development. I have heard it described from platforms many times as the magic penny. It certainly has done a great amount of good. I hope that when the appropriate time comes Members in all parts of the House will be prepared to discuss, and discuss thoroughly, the progress that has been made since 1920 through the Miners' Welfare Commission and the Miners' Welfare Fund. At the moment we have to limit ourselves to discussion pertaining to the Bill.

Mr. R. J. Taylor (Morpeth)

As it is desired to have this Bill through very soon, I want to say that we welcome this, as miners, very sincerely indeed. Regarding what the Parliamentary Secretary has said on the question of the levy and pit-head baths, as to whether we should have the money now or defer it till the war is over, I will say that when the President of the Mineworkers' Federation, in a speech, seemed to imply that there was a danger regarding the levy nothing less than consternation went through the mining area. Some of my hon. Friends, Members from purely mining constituencies, would have liked to have had a word or two on this. There are a number of things we would have liked to have said. For instance, it appears to me that if we had been as interested in the miners as we ought to have been and we had taken the same steps even during the depression in regard to pit-head baths as with regard to mechanisation, we could have had every colliery in the coalfield to-day with a pit-head bath. We are also complaining about the lack of technicians. I would commend this, that in regard to the miners' scholarship scheme everything might be done to make the scheme as applicable as possible to as wide a number as we can so that we can solve the question of technicians in the mining industry. I hope that when this comes up again my hon. Friend will be able to report some progress in some of the matters that have been mentioned with regard to labour and materials, so that the baths which have not been completed should be and those which have not been commenced may have been started and be in course of completion. We sincerely welcome this Bill.

Mr. Gallacher (Fife, West)

I want to make a suggestion, but before making it I would like to express my agreement with the references that have been made to the changes and developments in miners' welfare. Anyone who cares to go back and read some of the reports of, say, 100 years back on the conditions in the mining industry, and then consider the situation in the mining industry to-day, could scarcely believe it to be the same industry which is being considered. At the same time it should be remembered that this progress up to where we are just now with the pit-head baths, rehabilitation, and the rest of it, has been one long struggle on the part of the miners and the miners' organisation. If ever there was an organisation of the working class or of any kind which has justified itself by the service it has given to those within its folds, it is surely the organisation of the miners which is now the Miners' Federation of Great Britain, which at all the different stages of organisation has played its part in building up a better conception of conditions for miners and in building up at the same time the strength of the union.

I would say that now, more than ever, when young men are being directed into the mines, is welfare necessary, particularly in connection with the provision of washing facilities at the pit-head baths. We have now got away from the old days, when in the evening if you went into a miner's house you would see the big kitchen with a stone floor and everywhere around heavy, dirty, wet clothes hanging, making home life almost impossible. We have got away from that, and as a result of the council houses and pit-head baths we have produced a better situation. I would say that with the coming of the lads into the pits as a result of the ballot we should do everything possible to get washing facilities. I suggest to the Minister that his Department should lay it down and demand the Government's support for it when they lay it down that they will not be forced out of Gleneagles unless, and until, they get alternative accommodation of the same high standard. It would be a shame and a disgrace if the Ministry allowed golfers when the war is over to come back and turn the rehabilitation work out of Gleneagles.

Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.

Clause 2 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Bill reported, without Amendment, read the Third time, and passed, without Amendment.