HC Deb 07 March 1944 vol 397 cc1847-8
2. Mr. Tinker

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power how many working days have been lost during December and January owing to lack of transport wagons; and will he consider the stacking of coal near the collieries instead of playing the pits when there are not sufficient wagons to take the coal away.

The Minister of Fuel and Power (Major Lloyd George)

The total number of man-shifts lost owing to transport difficulties and want of wagons during the eight weeks ended 29th January, 1944, was 200,600, representing roughly one-third of a working day for the country as a whole. Facilities have been provided at or near collieries in the main coalfield areas for stacking coal in conditions of transport difficulty. In most cases, however, wagons are required for transporting coal to these sites and where difficulties arise from a shortage of railway wagons at collieries, some loss of coal production is unavoidable.

Mr. Tinker

Would it be possible to stack coal on the surface without using any transport at all? My knowledge of the colliery working is that, adjoining the collieries, there are plenty of places for stacking coal which would be of great help in times of stress such as we are passing through now. As it is, shifts are wasted and no coal is got.

Major Lloyd George

That has been done, and is being developed in places where it is possible, but my hon. Friend will agree with me, that, taking the country as a whole, the question of stacking any appreciable quantity of coal at the colliery surface, is an extremely difficult one, and there must be some method of transport for moving the coal.

Mr. Foster

How is it that it can be done in peace time, when coal is stacked for a purpose, and yet cannot be done in wartime? Is the transport of this coal really necessary, when there is plenty of room about the collieries for stacking?

Major Lloyd George

My hon. Friend will agree that, in the vast majority of cases, it is impossible without wagons to do any stacking at all. This is one of the difficulties which arise at the present time.

Mr. Tinker

Will the right hon. and gallant Gentleman make an attempt to get something definite done?

Major Lloyd George

I can assure my hon. Friend that every effort is being made at the present time to improve the stacking facilities. I am fully aware of the need for doing so.

Mr. R. J. Taylor

Is the Minister aware that in peace time it is not uncommon for 250,000 tons of coal to be stacked at the collieries, and that by stacking they are able to keep the pits working?

Major Lloyd George

As my hon. Friend knows, there are, in his district, very good facilities even to-day for the stacking of a large tonnage. But in peace time wagons were available in order to do the stacking. I am aware that, in many parts, especially in the Midland districts, it was done in peace time.