HC Deb 30 January 1945 vol 407 cc1273-4
59 and 60. Mr. Daggar

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power (1) whether, in view of the period since any statement was made regarding mining subsidence, he can now give any information concerning the result of the consultations that have taken place between the several Departments; and whether it is proposed to introduce legislation to deal with this matter or by what other means it is proposed to deal with the problem; and

(2) whether he is aware that in the recently published Report of the Scottish Coalfields Committee attention is drawn to the considerable and steadily increasing damage done to private property because of subsidence due to mining operations and which suggests that provision should be made to enable owners of such property, chiefly houses, to secure compensation; and whether he proposes, as a similar problem exists in England and Wales, to introduce legislation, or by other means, to deal with the matter.

Major Lloyd George

I am aware that the Scottish Coalfields Committee said that there was general agreement that provision should be made to enable owner-occupiers of small property to secure compensation, but the Committee went on to say that the matter should be considered on a wider plane than that of small owner-occupied property. As regards new building on sites which may be liable to damage from subsidence due to coal mining there has been and continues to be consultation between my Ministry and the Ministry of Town and Country Planning. In the case of existing buildings, while I share the sympathy expressed by the Scottish Committee for the small owner-occupier, I also share their view that this is bound up with wider questions. In any case, it would not be possible in present circumstances to prepare and introduce the necessary legislation, which would inevitably be complicated and controversial.

Mr. Daggar

Do I understand from the Minister's reply that no action is to be taken by the Government upon completion of the consultations?

Major Lloyd George

I was not saying that nothing was proposed to be done; I pointed out that at this particular juncture it is a very complicated question, as my hon. Friend knows as well as anybody else, and at this particular juncture a very complicated and controversial Measure could not be contemplated.

Mr. Daggar

Am I to understand that it is not the intention of the Government to deal with this serious problem in England and Wales?

Major Lloyd George

As far as new buildings are concerned, my hon. Friend is aware that I am in consultation with the authorities responsible; as far as the others are concerned, we have been looking at the matter and, as I pointed out to my hon. Friend, it is a very difficult matter indeed, but it is not the intention of the Government to do nothing.

Dr. Edith Summerskill

On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the fact that Questions are now being called which were called before when the questioners were not here, would you tell us why some of us are being penalised who have Questions down which are not being called again?

Mr. Speaker

I went straight down the Order Paper and did not notice that the Chancellor's Questions were finished. I think the hon. Member was fortunate, that is all.