HC Deb 17 February 1944 vol 397 cc346-7
52. Mr. Foster

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he will give the latest total number of shifts which have been lost in the mining industry, when the workmen have been available for work, for which the guaranteed wage has been paid; and the estimated loss of output due to this cause.

The Minister of Fuel and Power (Major Lloyd George)

During the four weeks ended 15th January the provisional total figure of shifts lost in the coal mining industry, for which guaranteed wage was paid, was 213,000. This total includes shifts lost owing to there being no work available, substituted work on which allowances were made, waiting time and losses due to breakdown of transport, etc. The estimated loss of output was 216,000 tons.

Mr. Foster

While thanking the Minister for his reply, may I ask whether he is aware that coal owners are sending men home when work is available and that output has been affected by this means of reducing their costs of production?

Major Lloyd George

I get from my regional officers a weekly return giving the exact details of shifts lost. I am not denying that there has been some abuse of the system but it has been greatly tightened, and will I hope be tightened up still further.

53. Mr. Foster

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what machinery exists in his Department for ascertaining the causes for the number of shifts lost, when the workman is available for work, with its consequent loss of output of coal.

Major Lloyd George

Each colliery furnishes weekly to the regional statistical officer of the Ministry a return giving complete information as to the cause of loss of shifts for which guaranteed wage is paid.

Mr. Foster

Is the Minister conveying to the House that his Department are aware of the causes for the payment of this guaranteed wage and that the owners are not using the fund, as I have just pointed out, for the purposes of subsidising their costs of production?

Major Lloyd George

If my hon. Friend had listened to my previous supplementary answer, he would have heard that I said we are aware of certain abuses and are doing our best to check them.

Mr. Bowles

Are any of these people who are guilty being prosecuted?

Major Lloyd George

What happens is that the money has to be refunded.

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