HC Deb 30 January 1947 vol 432 cc1092-4
21. Sir Waldron Smithers

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he will hand over a coalmine to Polish workers and pay them by results.

Mr. Shinwell

By the Coal Industry Nationalisation Act, 1946, Parliament has entrusted the responsibility for operating the coal mines to the National Coal Board, and I have no power to hand over a coal mine to Polish nationals, or to anybody else.

Sir W. Smithers

Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that it is not the opinion of the National Coal Board that matters, but that it is coal we want? Will he consult with the T.U.C. and let this House know what are the T.U.C.'s orders?

Mr. Chetwynd

Would my right hon. Friend consider handing over a coalmine to the hon. Member for Orpington (Sir W. Smithers) and pay him by results?

Mr. R. S. Hudson

Arising out of the right hon. Gentleman's original reply, has he no powers to issue directions to the Coal Board to do anything that he regards as being in the national interest?

Mr. Shin well

Certainly I have power to issue directions to the National Coal Board, and when I do it will be on a matter where I think the Coal Board can do something really effective in the national interest.

Mr. Gallacher

Will the Minister take careful note of the anti-British attitude of the Tories as exemplified by the remarks which we have just heard from the benches opposite?

Mr. Hudson

Would the right hon. Gentleman look again at his original answer, because clearly in the light of his answer to my supplementary question, it is neither full nor correct?

Mr. Shinwell

If it were thought desirable to carry out the proposal suggested by the hon. Member for Orpington (Sir W. Smithers), then, obviously, I would exercise my powers of direction, but the proposal he has made is quite useless.

Professor Savory

Is not the right hon. Gentleman well aware of the marvellous results produced by Polish miners in Silesia, Westphalia and Lenz, where, as miners, they were nulli secundi?

Mr. Shinwell

It is completely erroneous to suppose that we can place thousands of Poles in the mines and make them productive. First of all, we have to ensure that there are trained Polish miners; secondly, where they are untrained, that we can train them; and, thirdly, that we can absorb them into the pits usefully and effectively.

26. Sir W. Smithers

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power on what date in the early part of 1946 his Department first entered into negotiations with the National Union of Mine Workers regarding the employment of Polish workers in British mines.

Mr. Shinwell

The consultations commenced on 7th June, 1946.

Sir W. Smithers

Does the Minister now realise that the accusation of inaccuracy made the other day in answer to a question of mine is not now justified?

Mr. Shinwell

I am not aware of any inaccuracy.

Sir W. Smithers

The right hon. Gentleman is full of them.