§ 49. Major H. Fraser
asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he has any statement to make on the recent international coal conference as it affects the Ruhr; and whether, in view of His Majesty's Government's economic responsibilities to the British zone, he proposes to accept a further increase of coal export from that area.
§ Mr. R. J. Taylor
I assume that my hon. Friend is referring to the Anglo-French Conference last month at Essen and I can add little to the joint communique issued by the British and French delegations, of which I am sending him a copy. The proportion of Ruhr coal devoted to export is not a matter for determination by us alone, but by a quadripartite committee of the occupying Powers. While, on the one hand, production in the Ruhr has declined owing to the cut in rations, on the other, increased quantities of coal are needed for consumption in Germany if basic requirements, including the needs of food production and of industries ancillary to mining, are to be met; at the same time we fully recognise the serious situation in which our Western Allies are placed through the American coal strike. In view of France's particularly urgent requirements we are considering whether special measures can be taken to make more coal available to the European coal organisation, a proportion of which would of course go to France. Apart from this we are doing everything possible to increase production in the Ruhr, both for domestic consumption and export.
§ Major Fraser
Will the hon. Gentleman convey to the Minister concerned that unless this system is changed there will be a shortage in the production of mining machinery throughout Europe owing to coal shortage in the Ruhr, which will lead to a long term deterioration of the European economic situation?
§ Mr. R. J. Taylor
In April, 162,000 tons were exported to Austria by agreement between the four occupying Powers. The remaining export tonnage was allocated by the European Coal Organisation as follows: 115,000 tons to France, 137,000 tons to Belgium, 130,000 tons to Netherlands, 113,000 tons to Denmark, 56,000 tons to Norway, 78,000 tons to Luxembourg, 9,000 tons to Italy, 11,000 tons to Switzerland, 30,000 tons to Sweden, 10,000 tons to Finland.
§ Mr. Walkden
How are the economic needs of these countries determined? Will the Minister take into account the fact that Holland seems to have supplies sufficient for her transport, as she has derationed petrol altogether, and now we find that she is sharing in coal and is likely to get more? How is the need determined?