HC Deb 23 November 1943 vol 393 cc1426-7
31. Mr. Rhys Davies

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he will now abandon the policy of instigating prosecutions of persons employed in and around coalmines for offences not punishable in this way before the war in view of the sympathetic strikes provoked by such prosecutions and the consequent manner in which the law is brought into disrepute?

Major Lloyd George

I have nothing to add to the reply which I gave to my hon. Friend on this subject on 12th October last.

Mr. Davies

Does not the right hon. and gallant Gentleman think that the loss of production of coal is sometimes due to these prosecutions? Would it not be worth while giving consideration to that point?

Major Lloyd George

As I told my hon. Friend last time, I am most anxious not to prosecute. We prosecute only when an offence has been committed, and the best thing to do is not to commit an offence.

Mr. Shinwell

Does not my right hon. and gallant Friend realise that these and have not contributed towards increased production of coal? As the Government are now in a very lenient mood, cannot he now do something in the matter?

Major Lloyd George

I am most anxious to do anything I can to avoid prosecutions. I have asked everybody I can think of to find a better way. But when an offence against the law of the land has been committed and proceedings take place, I have no alternative if the fine is not paid.

Mr. Gallacher

The miners go in and Mosley comes out.

Mr. Austin Hopkinson

Is it not a fact that it is not possible to take any other steps so long as the Essential Work Order is applied to collieries?

Mr. Cocks

Will my right hon. and gallant Friend consider setting up special industrial courts to deal with these cases?

Major Lloyd George

I have tried several experiments, some of them of a voluntary nature with the consent of both sides. Those which have been tried show every hope of being successful. I am watching them carefully, and I will extend them to other coalfields if they are successful.

Mr. Sloan

Is the Minister aware that as a result of a Durham boy being sent to prison it will require 50 years' work to make up the shifts which have been lost by the men who went on strike?