§ 3.43 p.m.
§ The Minister of Fuel and Power (Mr. Shinwell)
The output of coal, including deep-mined and opencast in the first 28 weeks of 1947, that is to say, up to 12th July was 105,534,000 tons. In the same period of 1946, it was 101,358,000 tons. There was, therefore, an increase during this years of 4,176,000 tons. Hon. Members may wish to have the figures for the first six months. I have just given the figures for 28 weeks. Therefore, if we take the first half of 1947, up to 28th 604 June, the output was 98,310,000 tons. But, in the same period of 1946, it was 94,299,000 tons, and that represents an increase of 4,011,000 tons. That is—
§ Mr. R. S. Hudson (Southport)
Will the right hon. Gentleman allow me to interrupt him for a moment? Is he referring to deep-mined, or opencast coal?
§ Mr. Shinwell
I am surprised at the right hon. Gentleman so early in the proceedings, because in my first sentence, I said,The output of coal, including deep-mined and opencast.That is the production position in broad outline. Let us consider the output of deep-mined coal alone, since the introduction of the five-day week. In the 10 weeks since the introduction of the five-day week, that is, up to 12th July, the output of deep-mined coal was 35,420,000 tons. In the corresponding ten weeks of 1946, the output of deep-mined coal was 34,731,000 tons. Therefore, since the introduction of the five-day week this year, we have produced 689,000 tons more deep-mined coal than during the corresponding period of 1946.
The only comment I allow myself is that, while the improvement in output cannot be regarded as adequate for all our needs, we have established the fact that at least as much coal has been produced in the five-day week as was produced in a six-day week in the corresponding period of last year. I am aware, however, that the point may be made that manpower in the industry has increased, and that this should more than account for the increased production. It is true that recruitment this year has been good. In the first 26 weeks of 1947, we recruited 53,400 men and boys for the mines. The total wastage during this period was 27,700. The net increase, therefore, is 25,700. That could never have been achieved without the prospect of a five-day week and the assurance of improved conditions.
At the end of 1946, the manpower figure was 692,200, that is to say, the number of persons on the colliery books. But, in the first six months of 1947, we have raised it to 717,900, which is well over half-way to the target set in the Economic Survey, namely, 730,000 men by the end of this year. The present net intake is about 400 a week, and, on 605 this basis, we should reach the target. I should add that, at 5th July, the number of persons employed was 718,300. It should be noted, however, that, of the new recruits, there was a large number of boys, and the majority of recruits—over 30,000 of them—were men new to the industry. This is mainly green labour which requires training before it can do any productive work, still less produce coal at the rate within the capacity of an experienced miner. Let me say most emphatically that intensive recruitment does not lead immediately to increased output. That is a fact of which some people are not aware.
I invite the attention of hon. Members to the stock position. At the beginning of this coal year, that is, at the end of April, 1947, distributed coal stocks totalled nearly 6 million tons—actually 5,989,000 tons—as compared with nearly 7 million tons—more precisely 6,846,000 tons—at the corresponding date last year. But by 5th July this year, we had raised stocks to a figure of 10½ million tons, the exact figure being 10,522,000 tons. At the corresponding date last year, stocks were slightly more than 8½ million tons, the exact figure being 8,603,000 tons. Although we started this coal year in May with nearly 1 million tons less stock than last year, today our stock position is better than last year by nearly 2 million tons. It is interesting to note the present position of the main categories of users. I shall furnish hon. Members with as much detail as is possible. For example, electricity stocks total 3,127,000 tons, representing nearly four and a half weeks' supply. At the corresponding date last year, this figure was 1,476,000 tons. The target for the end of the summer is six weeks' supply, and there are already four and a half weeks' supply.
Gas stocks total 2,108,000 tons, representing nearly four weeks' supply. At the corresponding date last year, the figure was 1,300,000 tons. The target for the end of the summer is five and a half weeks' supply, although we may not do better than five weeks' supply. I want five and a half weeks' supply, but it may be difficult to reach that target. In engineering the present stock is 463,000 tons, representing 4⅓ weeks' supply. Last year's stock was 403,000 tons. Iron and steel stock at present is 384,000 tons, representing 1.7 weeks' sup- 606 ply. Last years' stock was 432,000 tons—rather better—so that we are not so well off as regards supplies of distributed stocks for iron and steel. But the actual increase in stock since the beginning of this coal year in this connection has been greater than in the corresponding period last year, namely, 154,000 tons as against 94,000 tons. The present stock in other, miscellaneous, industries is 2,145,000 tons compared with last years' stock of 1,872,000 tons. I must add that recently we allocated an additional 42,000 tons weekly to iron and steel because of the present needs of production in this important field of industry.
I now turn to the more difficult position of household coal. Stocks of household coal held by merchants are not as satisfactory as I should like them to be. Stocks total 845,000 tons as against 972,000 tons last year, although the actual increase in stocks since the beginning of this coal year has been greater than last year, namely, 599,000 tons as against 509,000 tons. However—and I ask the Committee to take note of this—we began this coal year with lower stocks than last year—only 246,000 tons as against 463,000 tons. Last winter, merchants' disposals of household coal totalled 16,300,000 tons. This winter we must allow for additional registrations, and, in addition, I am anxious to provide for householders more coal than was available last winter. To achieve this I would like merchants to be able to dispose of at least 18 million tons of coal this winter, which represents a substantial increase. That is my objective. But the iron and steel industry, the railways and the gas undertakings also use household quality coal, and they are all most vital consumers. I certainly cannot divert supplies from them. If, therefore, we are to provide this reasonable minimum of supplies to the households of the country, we have to seek the solution in production. The mining industry must produce enough coal to satisfy all these requirements. There is, in my view, no other way.
In order to assess the prospects, let us examine some of the important factors affecting output. I do so realistically. First of all, there is attendance at the pits. It should be understood that, as compared with last year, absenteeism has fallen both overall and at the face. It has also fallen further since the introduc- 607 tion of the five day week, although I must admit that the figures for June are not as satisfactory as for the month of May. Here are some figures. I distinguish between absenteeism at the coal face and overall absenteeism. In April, 1946, the absenteeism at the coal face was 19.75 In April, 1947, it Was 17.99. In May, 1946, it was 17.45, but in May, 1947—and I ask hon. Members to note this—during the first four weeks of the five day week, it had fallen to 10.40. In June, 1946, however, it was 17.98, whereas in June this year, it was 11.94. There had been a rise since the month of May. The same applies to the overall position. There have been corresponding reductions. I shall not trouble the Committee with the detailed figures.
Let us take the matter of disputes. The weekly averages for tonnages lost by disputes has increased, as compared with 1946. In April, 1946, we lost 15,700 tons, but in April, 1947, we lost 37,400 tons. In May, 1946, we lost 17,600 tons, but in May, 1947, during the first four weeks of the five-day week, we lost 34,200 tons. In June, 1946, we lost 30,000 tons, and in June, 1947, we lost 38,300 tons. I tell hon. Members quite definitely that I regard this as an unsatisfactory position.
§ Mr. Shinwell
The machinery now available in the mining industry for the speedy and effective settlement of disputes, the presence in the mining industry of a great and influential union with capable and responsible leaders, makes it, in my view, unnecessary for men to indulge in unofficial disputes. I have said so elsewhere, and I repeat it here. Yet, at the same time, the amount of tonnage lost is not particularly excessive. That must be admitted—a matter of 30,000 tons a week. But there ought to he nothing lost, and I regret that even a single ton of coal is lost through men, in a moment of passion, or through mistaken policy, indulging in lightning strikes.
Perhaps, the most vital factor in the problem is the output per manshift. Now, as compared with 1946, the output per manshift has increased, particularly 608 since the introduction of the five-day week, both overall and at the Lace. Here are the figures of output per manshift. In April, 1946, at the coal face the output per manshift was 2.73. In 1947 it had gone up to 2.77. In May, 1946, it was 2.78. But in May, 1947, during the first four weeks of the five-day week, it had gone up to 2.88. In June, 1946, it was 2.75, whereas in June this year it had increased to 2.87. That is satisfactory; and it is a vital factor in relation to production.
It is obvious that one of the vital factors of production is the number of workers at the coal face. This year the number of face workers in the industry has increased by 8,242. At 4th January, 1947, the number of face workers was 281,152. At 28th June, 1947, the number had increased to 289,394. As I have said, this represents an increase of 8,242. If the manpower target of 730,000 for the industry as a whole is reached by the end of 1947, and the proportion of face workers to others remains constant, a further 6,000 face workers should be at work by the end of the year. Inquiries show that the absorption over the whole year of 14,000 face workers—the 8,000 already absorbed, plus a further 6,000—would be practicable. In addition, if there were a free flow of equipment and full co-operation by the men, more face room than this could be provided, and additional face workers could be made available by upgrading, provided that the men agreed. Undoubtedly, given an additional 14,000 face workers—and that seems likely—this year, a considerable additional weekly tonnage ought to result.
Another important factor is machinery and other equipment. Increased mechanisation will also increase production, as we know. An examination of over ion mechanisation projects introduced at individual collieries by the National Coal Board has shown an increase of 60 per cent. in output per manshift. Deliveries of essential equipment are showing some improvement over last year, but orders are being placed by individual collieries faster than the rate of increase of deliveries. The shortage of conveyor belting is likely to be particularly acute. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Supply is doing his best to increase rates of delivery, and if his plans are successful there should be a gradual improvement over the 609 rest of the year. The outlook for 1948 is not unsatisfactory, with the exception of conveyor belting. In the first half of this year manufacturers had delivered nearly 1,000 conveyers, 470 coal cutters, 50 loaders, and 4,000,000 feet of conveyor belting. Orders totalling over £9,500,00 have been placed for the second half of this year. Orders have been placed for beyond the end of the year, and overall contracts up to the middle of 1948, are under negotiation.
What about opencast machinery? Earlier this year I sent a mission to the United States of America to purchase additional excavators for opencast work. Opencast operations and output depend more on machinery than on manpower. As a result, we hope to obtain this year additional overburden excavators with a total capacity of 145 cubic yards. This is in addition to orders already placed in the United States, and, allowing for British production, we should, by the end of the year, increase our total overburden excavator capacity from 945 to 1,205 cubic yards; and that connotes increased opencast production.
What are the National Coal Board's short-term plans—and I emphasise "short-term plans" as distinct from long-term policy—for increasing output? It is with short-term plans that we are primarily concerned. Apart from increased mechanisation, there are other methods in hand, including concentration of coal faces. Now, this involves the replacement of small, scattered districts served by separate roads and haulages carrying small outputs, by groups of faces close together with a common loading point served by a single haulage carrying a large output per shift. This will reduce costs and release haulage workers—which is very important, indeed—and equipment for work elsewhere.
Then there is the concentration of output on selected collieries. All the coal divisions in the country are reviewing sub-normal pits, with a view to closing them and transferring men to other pits where face room exists or can be made. A number of such closures have already been made, but we must proceed carefully in this connection because of the social implications. One of the most promising prospects is that of the drift mines. Such mines can usually be quickly developed at low capital cost. 610 This possibility of utilising coal at shallow depths but beyond the reach of opencast workings is being examined by all divisions. Some 60 drift mines are now in process of development, and several have already reached the productive stage. They will become more productive next year, and by the end of 1948 the total output from drift mines should be substantial. The overall output per man-shift at these mines is high; in some cases as much as three tons. Therefore, we see how advantageous it would be if we could develop this process speedily.
There is also underground lighting. The National Coal Board are experimenting with new methods of face lighting, including fluorescent lighting, and installations are in hand already in nine pits. This should assist in increasing production. The more light at the coal face, the better it is. But it should also assist in reducing the number of accidents at the coal face; and that, in its turn, has a beneficial effect on output. Moreover, reassessment of tasks is being pursued in all divisions, with the assistance of the National Union of Mineworkers. The inherent suspicion of the miner of new methods—and I am afraid there are some miners who are conservative; though not politically, thank heavens—designed to increase his productive effort, will have to be overcome It reassessment is to be achieved properly; that is to say, in lengthening the stint, and in a variety of other ways. For this we rely on the new conciliation machinery and the efforts of the National Union of Mineworkers; and, so far as I have gathered—certainly among the leaders of that organisation—there is full co-operation.
Finally on the short-term plans of the National Coal Board, I would refer to training schemes. The Board are pressing on with new training schemes, although the creation and operation of the necessary training faces must take some time. It seems to be assumed that all we require to do is to get boys and men from other industries, plant them in the pits, and the coal emerges. Well, the men and boys have to be trained; and they have to be trained realistically. They can undergo a certain amount of training on the surface, in mining schools, and at mechanisation centres. But realistic training is essential in the pits, and unless training faces are available training is impeded.
611 Hon. Members will expect me to say something about coal imports. Let me be quite definite with the Committee. I have never liked the prospect of importing coal. Indeed, I have an intense and cordial dislike for an operation of that kind. This country should be resuming its traditional role of a coal exporter, and in my view it must do so with the utmost speed. I regard it as deplorable that in a country where coal is indigenous, where there are vast resources, and when the pits are available—although not in as good a condition as we should like them to be—that we should be forced into the position of importing coal. Nevertheless, in our present circumstances I am grateful to the United States of America and Poland for any supplies we may receive from them. As regards United States' coal, the European Coal Organisation recommended to the United States Government that, we should get, during the period July to September, the first 600,000 tons of any United States coal available in excess of nine million tons allocated to Europe. We were also given the right to purchase any quantities not taken up by other countries out of the nine million tons.
Orders have been placed and shipping chartered for 135,000 tons of United States' coal. One cargo of 9,000 tons is expected to arrive before the end of this month. That is an important and historic event. Nine thousand tons is just about the daily output of one of the large pits in this country. There is a hopeful prospect, if all goes well, of receiving a further 500,000 tons in the next three months. The National Coal Board are satisfied, in general, with the quality of coal, which includes a good proportion of gas and coking coal; and gas and coking coal are very important indeed. There is also the matter of Polish coal. As a result of the Anglo-Polish trade agreement, which was confirmed on 9th June, Poland agreed to provide 240,000 tons of coal in a period of 12 months. One cargo of 6,000 tons has already arrived, and two further cargoes are expected before the end of this month. During the next three months the National Coal Board hope to receive 60,000 tons of Polish coal, and shipments should continue at a rate of not less than 20,000 tons a month.
If absenteeism—and I agree there has been a remarkably striking reduction, for 612 which we are grateful—could be brought down to the level of those first few weeks when the five-day week began, we should not require to import any more coal next year. That is the position.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Cooper (Middlesbrough, West)
Could my right hon. Friend tell us the price of the coal?
§ Mr. Shinwell
There will be an opportunity for hon. Members to express their views and to ask questions, which will be answered by the Parliamentary Secretary. At the moment I would rather just state my case. Perhaps I might say that, so far as we can gather, the price of the United States coal c.i.f. will be about £ 5 10s a ton; in the case of Polish coal it will vary from about £3 to £5 6s. a ton.
What is the position of coal exports? In January to May this year—and I mention this matter of coal exports because there is a great deal of misunderstanding about it—exports totalled 422,000 tons, as against 2,110,000 tons in the corresponding period in 1946. Since February exports have averaged 43,000 tons a month, as against 420,000 tons in the corresponding months last year. Exports now go only to the Channel Islands, Eire, His Majesty's Forces Overseas, and Canada, where we sent anthracite peas and grains. An agreement to export 45,000 tons of peas and grains to Canada was made to keep in consumption in Canada special domestic appliances, and so to preserve this market. The rest is foreign bunkers. In the period January to May, 1947, foreign bunkers averaged 374,000 tons a month, as compared with almost one million tons a month before the war. Bunkers would have been substantially higher but for the fact that arrangements were made in February for ships on the Atlantic run to double-bunker at American and Canadian ports. I am satisfied that a determined effort must be made next year to revive our export trade. This should be possible if more coalfaces are opened, if more face workers are employed, and if more machinery is made available; more important still, it depends on output per manshift and regular attendance at the pits. There is a reasonable hope that all this can be achieved, and that at least a trickle of exports can begin to flow in 1948.
There is the picture in broad outline. There are some satisfactory features, and 613 there are other features less favourable. I keep in close daily contact with the National Coal Board. They do not require to be prodded; there is a sense of urgency, and they realise the paramount needs of the nation in respect of coal. I have paid weekly visits to the coalfields, and I must have visited almost every coalfield by now, and some of them several times. There is full and harmonious co-operation among the men as far as the Coal Board is concerned, and in relation to the Ministry of Fuel and Power. There is, however, a responsibility resting heavily on the shoulders of that minority of men—about 10 per cent. or 12 per cent.—who, for one reason or another, are not pulling their weight. I said the other day, at the Conference of the National Union of Mineworkers at Rothesay, that 90 per cent. of the men are playing the game and playing it well, and deserve credit, but there is that minority. It is not fair to their colleagues; it is not fair to the National Union of Mineworkers, and they are rendering a Great disservice to the whole nation. The other day, Mr. Will Lawther, the President of the National Union of Mineworkers, said that in the last six months, since the advent of the National Coal Board, more reforms and benefits for the mineworkers of the country had been introduced than in the last 50 years. Many of these reforms were long awaited and well deserved. More reforms have yet to come, but reforms cost money, and they depend substantially on the rate of production. If we are progressively to promote reforms in the mining industry, and that we must do—much remains to be done—there must be greater output.
I do not place the whole of the responsibility on the men themselves. There are the conditions of the pits. There has been far too much neglect in the past. Too many pits have been closed down—over 1,000 pits have been closed down since 1924. New coal faces have to be opened up. That takes time. It requires machinery, and productive labour has to be transferred from the coal face to work of that kind. As I have indicated, we are recruiting green labour which has to be trained. These are some of the difficulties, and the whole of the responsibility must not therefore be placed on the shoulders of the men. The first two full weeks of the five-day week demonstrated that the men can 614 work enthusiastically, and produce the output we require. That trend must continue if we are to get through. Our task at the Ministry of Fuel and Power, and the task of the National Coal Board, the National Union of Mineworkers and the National Association of Colliery Managers is to assist—no more than that —in saving the nation. That is our purpose. We are doing all we can in that direction. It may still be that some hon. Members have constructive proposals to offer; far from me to suggest that all the wisdom in this regard resides at the Ministry of Fuel and Power—an observation which, no doubt, will be received with elation in certain circles. Therefore, if hon. Members have any constructive proposals on this occasion to make to us, we shall be only too glad to avail ourselves of them.
§ 4.26 p.m.
§ Mr. R. S. Hudson (Southport)
I think the House will probably agree that we have just heard a speech from the right hon. Gentleman which is very different, and, if I may be allowed to say so, very much better and much more informative than the speeches with which he usually favours us in this House. I should like also to thank him, personally, for the courtesy he has shown in letting us have a sight of the figures before the beginning of the Debate, which makes our task very much easier, even if reading them through, as I did, did very little to lighten my gloom.
Before I deal with the details of the right hon. Gentleman's speech, I should like to spend a moment or two in calling attention to what, I believe, is the historic nature of this Debate. It has been the practice of the House for generations to devote 20 days to Supply, when the Opposition have a choice of subject and Ministers reply on behalf of their Departments to current criticisms of administration. Today we are starting what I believe to be a brand new series of debates. For the first time, we are debating the administration of a nationalised industry—an industry which has already been nationalised for six months. I believe that this contains some implications which are worth calling to the attention, not only of hon. Members, but also of the public outside. Many hon. Members on both sides of the House have listened to coal Debates in the old days. Those 615 of us in the House before the war know that these Debates took the form, for the most part, of the miner representatives versus the owners. The miner Members of Parliament, whether they were M.P's sitting for miner constituencies, or officials and ex-officials of the mineworkers' unions, criticised the short-comings of the owners.
§ Mr. Hudson
I remember often listening for hours to the hon. Member for Abertillery (Mr. Daggar). On the other side, there were those who spoke on behalf of the owners, many of whom spoke with personal experience, as, indeed, did the miner M.P's. The consumers, or the public, were the onlookers. The public might have thought that there were faults on the one side or the other. They may have thought, like many of us did, that there were faults on both sides. But whatever their views, the one thing they were certain of was getting ample supplies of coal at a reasonably cheap price. That position has now been completely changed. From now onwards these coal debates will take the form of the miners versus the people. [An HON. MEMBER: "Not necessarily."] Yes, and I will explain if I am given time.
We have at present in this House Members of Parliament who sit for mining constituencies, or who are officials or ex-officials of the mining industry. They can speak from personal experience from the point of view of the men. But there is no one here today who can speak with personal experience of the other side of the industry. It is true that the Minister represents the Coal Board, but all he can do is to repeat, with or without embellishments, what he is told to say by the Board, or perhaps I should say that he bases his statements on information supplied by the Board. None of us on this side can have any first hand information at all, but we do represent the consumers of coal. We represent the domestic consumer and, equally important, the industrial consumer, and we are entitled today, more than ever before in our history, and probably for the first time in our history, to say that we are the people.
616 The second great change which has come over this matter is this: In the past, Members opposite have been accustomed to talk glibly about vested interests, and the wicked capitalists being the representatives of the vested interests. They have been the attackers. Today, the miners and their representatives in this House, instead of being the attackers, are representatives of the vested interests of the miners and the miners' union. That vested interest is probably the most powerful, whether for good or evil, of any vested interest in the country today. No one on any side of the Committee would deny the fundamental importance of coal to the whole of our economy. From now onwards, debates in this House on coal will fundamentally be the people versus the vested interests of the miners and the miners' union. Let no one forget that—
§ Mr. Hudson
Whatever they were in peace, they were not the vested interests of the miners. If anyone doubts what I am saying, let me spend a few minutes in rehearsing the history of wages and output over the last few years. I do not wish to criticise, but merely to state the facts. Members and the public at large will be entitled to draw what conclusions they like. What are the facts? In 1939 the overall wage rate—
§ Earl Winterton (Horsham)
On a point of Order. It is impossible, Major Milner, for anyone to make a speech from these benches without Members opposite, who represent the miners, indulging in rude, vulgar, insulting, interruptions.
§ Earl Winterton
Whenever a speech is made from this side, from the Front or back benches, there is a constant stream of foolish interruptions from Members opposite who represent mining constituencies.
§ Mr. Hudson
The Minister's speech was listened to in silence, apart from a minor attempt to get a little supplementary information. The right hon. Gentleman used certain figures which suited his purpose. I propose to use figures to suit my purpose, and I hope that Members who sit for mining areas can take it. I propose to give a brief history of what has happened in the industry over the last few years. I was talking about 1939, when Members opposite always said that the mining industry was in a bad way, and that wages were too low. Wages in 1939 were, on the average, 12s. per shift, and, according to the Government's publications, the average earnings of miners were 61s. 4d. a week, compared with 69s. a week as the average earnings in 16 of our other leading industries. From that it could be deduced that the miners were less well paid than those in many other industries; but as against that, the miner was working, on an average, 40 hours a week, whereas, in the 16 other industries, the average was 48 hours.
We now come to the war years. In June, 1942, the Greene tribunal recommended an increase of 2s. 6d. per shift, and a minimum wage of 83s. a week. In making that recommendation they asked the miners to make special efforts to increase output. The Miners' Federation assured the tribunal that with the removal of their grievances following the tribunal's award, increased output could be expected. The relevance of this will be seen in a few moments. The average weekly production of coal in 1941, before the Greene award, was 3,959,000 tons. In 1942, at the time of the award, it was 3,930,000. In 1943, it was 3,815,000, and in 1944 it had sunk to 3,688,000. Allowing for the difference in the number of men employed, the output per manshift in those years before the Greene award was 1.44 tons. The year of the Greene award it was 1.40; in 1943, it was 1.38; and in 1944 it was 1.34.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Fuel and Power (Mr. Gaitskell)
Is the figure of 1.44 the overall output per manshift?
§ Mr. Hudson
I am surprised that the hon. Gentleman does not know these 618 figures off by heart. In Table 32 of the Monthly Digest of Statistics for June, 1947, it states the average output in tons per manshift worked.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
I was asking the right hon. Gentleman whether the figures he was giving were overall or not.
§ Mr. Hudson
I am comparing like with like. After the Greene award, despite the promise of the Miners' Federation, output per manshift in fact dropped. I do not suppose that the Parliamentary Secretary would deny that. A month after the Greene award, Mr. Lawther, who was quoted just now by the Minister, said:We pledge our word. We express our faith that the changes we have obtained will help to get the coal we need day by day. If we fail, it will be a long day before anyone again listens in patience to any of our proposals.Yet they failed. In the first quarter after the Greene award, output was no less than 1,676,000 tons less than the previous quarter when there were 13,000 more workers employed. That hardly carries out Mr. Will Lawther's promise. Then we come to Lord Porter's tribunal in 1944. Lord Porter awarded a minimum of £5 a week, and it was also agreed to stabilise the wage agreement until the middle of 1948. The miners' representatives again undertook, in consideration of the acceptance of that award by the Government of the day, to ensure maximum output and efficiency and regularity of attendance. But despite that, output continued to go down steadily and.absenteeism to rise. To make matters worse, as far as breaking agreements, was concerned, Mr. Horner announced the other day that he had told the Prime Minister in the presence of the right hon. Gentleman that—I do not know whether he did or not but he said that he did—the miners would expect a new wage agreement to be brought in by the end of this year, although they had promised under the Porter award that that agreement should stand up to the middle of 1948. When the Parliamentary Secretary replies we shall be glad to know what the Government and the Coal Board propose to do about that.
The right hon. Gentleman, in the course of his speech, referred to a decrease of absenteeism. He quoted figures showing 619 a substantial decrease in absenteeism this year as compared with last. We are very glad to hear that there has been some decrease in absenteeism, but I think that the figures which he has quoted show altogether a greater decrease than has actually taken place because, if my information is right, the men who used to be absent every Saturday morning, when there was a Saturday morning shift, and who were, therefore, counted as absentees during the week, now, as there is no Saturday morning shift, are no longer counted as absentees. That is making the best of your figures. It is not very difficult to juggle with figures in that way.
One of the terms of the recent agreement was a bonus for attendance. If one attended five shifts in a week one got paid for six. It did not take the miners long —and I am not blaming them for it; I am merely stating the facts so that everyone shall know both inside and outside the House—to find their way round that. I remember that in the '30s, when we were discussing the anomalies of the Unemployment Insurance Acts, the Government of the day—as a matter of fact a Labour Government—had to bring in a special Bill to close a loophole in the Insurance Acts which had been perfectly legally taken advantage of by the men and the owners—the continuity rule, and so forth. The miners have discovered another continuity rule or a variant of it. One week they work five-days and get six days pay, and in the next week they work three days, the result in a fortnight being that they work eight days and get nine days pay—an extra day's pay and longer holidays. I cannot believe that that was intended by those people who said that they would give a bonus of six days' pay for five days' work.
Our task today is not to discuss nationalisation; it is to discuss the results of nationalisation. I am bound to say that the right hon. Gentleman skated over the actual results pretty skilfully. What is the history? He selected 1946 as the best comparison, and I am not surprised. Actually, 1946 was the nadir of coal production. Coal production had been going steadily down and down, but in November, 1946, after the Essential Work Order had been take off in September, there were signs of recovery, and I think 620 that it was in November that, for the first time, the output of deep-mined coal—and the figures I am giving throughout are purely deep-mined coal—rose to 3¾ million tons per week. One would have expected that if there was anything in nationalisation that trend would have continued. It should have continued beyond 1st January with all the advantages of nationalisation, so called. [Interruption.] There was the fact that the men, at all events, had got what we have always been told they have been longing for and in the absence of which they had been depressed as regards output and willingness to work during all those years.
The men have nationalisation and, for the first time, they were working, as we have been told, for the national interest instead of for private profits with the advantages and conditions of being able to shift men about, and the advantage, as the right hon. Gentleman has said, of improved recruitment for November steadily improving, and not only recruitment of new people, untrained men, but recruitment of men coming out of the Forces and recruitment of miners coming back from other industries. So, on balance, the labour force was steadily improving in efficiency. All these things, one would have expected, would have resulted in the maintenance at least and an improvement in the steady up-trend of production. In May, there was the further psychological advantage, if it is an advantage, of the five-day week. Again that was something which had been asked for always, pressed for and given. Again one would have expected the trend of production to go up. What do we find? Instead of the trend going up and up, it goes up, then drops, then suddenly up for a fortnight in May, and then steadily drops.
The figures which the right hon. Gentleman gives today are really deplorable. What was the target stated at the last Coal Debate? I remember saying at the time that the minimum coal required was 220 million tons, and that has been confirmed since on all sides. The Trades Union Congress, Mr. Lawther and everyone agreed that 220 million tons was the right target. I have not heard anyone of experience of the industry say that with good will and hard work that could not be obtained. In spite of that, the right hon. Gentleman persuaded his colleagues that a beggarly 621 200 million tons was to be the target. Two hundred million tons, even assuming that we do not require any more, means an average output per week of 3,900,000 tons, including opencast coal. The figure this week is below 3,900,000 tons. Lord Hyndley, the Chairman of the Coal Board, speaking recently, said that we had to get 11 million tons more this year than last and that in the first half we had only got four million tons. That leaves the remaining seven million tons to be got during the remainder of the year, which is the most difficult part of the year with the holidays coming on, the possibility of the introduction of bad weather, and only yesterday we were told that wagons were going to be a bottleneck.
The right hon. Gentleman very wisely today said nothing about whether the target was going to be achieved, but his own paper the "Daily Herald," which was evidently inspired, blew the gaff by saying that it would fail by 4 million tons. The right hon. Gentleman did not tell us whether there was going to be a fuel crisis this winter, nor did he express the hope that we would avoid a fuel crisis this winter. After his experiences last year and the various statements which he made he is getting wise in his old age, and he is beginning to realise that it is a wise thing to refrain from prophesying. I wonder if, in his heart of hearts, he believes that he will be able to avoid a fuel crisis. Does he think we are going to get through this year without a fuel crisis?
§ Mr. Shinwell
The right hon. Gentleman has been labouring in heavy seas for the last 20 minutes trying his best to get something to say. Now he has hit upon something which, quite obviously, is an oasis in the political desert. I will give an answer. I have given the Committee this afternoon the facts of the present situation. I have indicated the trend in output. I have already shown what the rate of recruitment is, and I have also indicated the possibility of obtaining the necessary machinery upon which will depend whether or not we can get the coal. Having given the Committee the facts, I allow them to draw their own conclusions, except to say this, that the trend is more favourable by far than it has been for a long time.
§ Mr. Hudson
I am very much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman. I will now 622 proceed to give the Committee and the country a few more figures from which they can draw their own conclusions.
§ Mr. Hudson
I certainly hope not, but I can see no possibility of avoiding it. The right hon. Gentleman said that credit should be taken for the fact that the deliveries of machinery and equipment have been substantial in the course of the last few months. The Members of the Committee on both sides heard him making that statement. One would have expected that the net result of the improved recruiting and more machinery would have been an increase in output. The right hon. Gentleman quoted some figures showing the output for the first 26 weeks of this year and also for the period since the five-day week came into operation. He compared those figures with the year 1946, but I am going to ask the Committee and the country to compare them with the last year of full private enterprise. The total production of deep mined coal in the first 26 weeks of this year, compared with the first 26 weeks of 1941 is down by 7 million tons; the total number of men employed compared with 1941 is up; while the public consumer is having the pleasure of paying just under £100 million sterling more for the smaller amount of coal. I am not surprised that the right hon. Gentleman tried to prevent me giving these figures the other day. We will compare the last six weeks.
§ Mr. Hudson
The weeks I am referring to end on the 7th, i4th, 21st, 28th June, 5th and 12th July. What do we find there? We find that in 1947 21,330,000 tons were mined, but in the corresponding period of 1941 the amount was over 23 million tons and let us not forget about all this new machinery and increased recruitment. The number of men—
§ Mr. Hudson
The number of men in 1941 was 690,500 and in 1947 the figure was 717,000, so we can say that in the last six weeks 2½ million tons of coal less were produced with 27,000 more men than was the case in the last year of 623 private enterprise. No wonder the right hon. Gentleman picked 1946 as a basis of comparison.
§ Mr. Hudson
What is going to happen for the rest of this year? The right hon. Gentleman gave us figures showing an increase in stocks. To the extent that they are better than last year, he is entitled to take the credit, but we should not forget that he is aiming at a target of 15 million tons at the end of October, which everyone, practically without exception, agrees is much too low. Most people would prefer to go into this winter with 18 million tons in stock instead of a mere 15 million. The right hon. Gentleman compared his figure with 1946. Why did he not take 1945? On this occasion I will not go back to 1941, but to the first year in which the Labour Government was in Office, and in which they had the benefit of the prudent work of the Coalition Government and of my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Pembroke (Major Lloyd George).
The total amount of stock today is 10½ million tons. Hon. Members who take the trouble to study the Monthly Digest of Statistics will find that in 1945 it was 12½ million tons. There is nothing to boast about in that, and we have to remember how this stock has been got up. It has been secured at the cost of drastic rationing of the domestic consumer and in electricity. Further, it has been got up through telling industry that they can have the same allocation of coal this year as they had last year, but it is not all to be used for manufacture and production, but partly for manufacture and production and partly to enable them to build up stocks for the coming winter. We would like to know how this is working. I hare tried, along with some of my hon. Friends, to discover what is happening in industry, and the answer is, that it is very patchy. Some firms say they have accumulated a certain amount of stock, while some say they have not been able to do so. What we would like to know is, will a prudent firm which has been able to accumulate a stock through careful management during the summer be allowed to keep that stock if some neighbouring firm or town runs short?
§ Mr. Shinwell
The answer is that a firm which exercises prudence in the use of its stock and manages to accumulate stocks will not be penalised.
§ Mr. Hudson
I am very grateful to the right hon. Gentleman and I am sure that his promise will give great satisfaction so far as it goes, but of course it does not get over the difficulty of this question of delivery. In reply to a question by my hon. Friend the Member for Darwen (Mr. Prescott), the right hon. Gentleman said that deliveries of coal to Lancashire cotton firms were higher than the allocations. In view of representations we have received, that seemed to be a very astonishing statement, and I have caused inquiries to be made and can find no justification for it at all. Firms in Lancashire tell me that deliveries are very patchy and that many of them doubt whether they will in fact be able to build up three weeks' stock out of their existing supplies. Those who think they may he able to do so can only do it because they are burning all sorts of supplementary rubbish in order to save supplies of coal for the winter. Above all, they complain of the very poor quality of coal which is provided. The right hon. Gentleman has told us often about the difficulties of obtaining the plant for screening coal, but as long ago as May of last year, in a Debate in the House, he said that in 12 months, and in no case longer than 12 months, he would be able to provide screened coal. That was in May of last year but now, in July, 1947, these firms are justly complaining of the appallingly poor quality of the coal with which they are supplied.
The only other point with which I wish to deal is the international aspect. The right hon. Gentleman said that he wanted to start the re-export of coal. Everybody knows the difference that a resumption of coal exports—not in a trickle such as that which the right hon. Gentleman forecast for next year, but on a substantial scale—would make not only to our foreign policy but to our own economy by helping the recovery of Europe. Everybody knows, too, that the Foreign Secretary has just come back from launching successfully in Paris the preliminaries for the development of the Marshall Plan. As everybody also 625 knows, the basis of the Marshall Plan is to help those who help themselves, and not merely for the United States to be regarded as a milch cow. I would venture to impress upon hon. Members on all sides the impact of this particular coal situation. America knows perfectly well that we have abundant supplies of coal. The right hon. Gentleman may think that he can fool the people of this country into thinking that there are good reasons for producing only 3,850,000 tons of coal last week. But you cannot fool the United States people or the United States Congress, and they are very apt to come back and say, "How about helping yourselves and getting some coal for yourselves and for Europe as a condition of our agreeing to the Marshall Plan?" In our view there is no better contribution that could be made to the general recovery of the world today than the raising, not of the target but of the actual production of coal in this country to something like the four million tons a week that is the minimum required to see us through.
What is the cause of our failure, because even the right hon. Gentleman did not pretend that he was coming down today to defend a successful administration and a successful attempt to obtain the coal? What are the causes of the failure? We have said in the past that we believe that one of the reasons for low production today is that the people of this country are not adequately fed. But we are told by the Government and by the Minister of Food, that that is not the case, and that even if it is the case in the country as a whole, it certainly does not apply to the miners who are supplied with special food and are privileged as compared with others. Therefore, according to the Government, food cannot be the reason why they are not getting this output which the right hon. Gentleman himself says they are well capable of getting. The reason cannot be hours because the miners have just obtained a reduction; it cannot be the number of days, because they have just been given a five-day week; and it cannot be wages, because they have the highest average earnings of any of the major industries.
§ Mr. Hudson
That is the question I am asking, and I venture to make the suggestion that it is very largely psycho- 626 logical. I do hope that hon. Members who are miners will not, when they come to speak, go back to the old, dreary story which we on this side have heard so often of what happened in 1923 and onwards. It may have cut ice in those days, but it does not cut any ice today. As I say, I feel that the matter is to a very large extent psychological, and I firmly and sincerely believe that the right hon. Gentleman himself has the solution in his own hands. By all accounts he is the darling of the miners; they say he is "the cat's whiskers" and they want to keep him as Minister. We even hear of representations made at very high levels to that effect, but I venture to suggest, in all seriousness, that although the right hon. Gentleman may be regarded as the pet of the miners, they may still despise him. It may well be that his mixture of alternative cajolery and abuse, is not the best way to obtain output from the miners. The British miners are not an unpatriotic body, as anyone who has knowledge of the miners' battalions in the war will know. They respond to leadership, but the great question before the country and the Government is whether the right hon. Gentleman is the right leader. We do not think that he is. He is certainly not getting results, and we believe that he is a thoroughly bad Minister administering his Department and obtaining no results at all. When the time comes we shall move a reduction of his Vote.
§ 5.8 p.m.
§ Captain Field (Paddington, North)
As this is the first time I have addressed this Chamber, I would ask the Committee to extend to me the customary indulgence afforded on such occasions. I think it will be conceded that today we are greatly misusing our coal resources and that we have been doing so for some generations. For instance, in 1913 we utilised only 15 per cent. of the potential energy contained in our coal output, and the balance of 85 per cent. went to waste. It may well be that in the distant past, when coal was cheap and comparatively easy to obtain, it did not matter how inefficient we were in our coal consumption. Today, when we have a tremendous problem of securing adequate quantities of coal at the right place, at the right time, in the right quantities and at the right price, we are still squandering 70 per cent. of the total energy contained in our coal output and 627 are putting only 30 per cent. to useful account.
Quite apart from the production problem which faces us, there is also the very long-term problem of the potential life of our coalfields. The original committees which were set up in 1944 by the then Minister of Fuel and Power, worked out that the probable workable reserves of coal in our coalfields over the whole country amounted to 170 years' reserves, presuming that we used 225 million tons of coal annually. It is true that this does not affect any persons alive today, but it does mean that future generations in a not so far distant time, will have to face this even greater problem. Therefore, these two very great considerations, the production problem and the problem of our dwindling resources, contains a warning that we should extract the maximum energy from our coal output from now on.
There is another point I want to make, and that is the serious damage which can result to British industry from a lack of a comparatively small amount of coal. For instance, during the so-called coal crisis last winter, the coal saving was in the region of 2,000,000 tons, but it is stated that the damage to British exports will be in the region of £200 million sterling. Therefore, it will be seen that a very small increase in the efficiency with which we used our fuel, once it is obtained, would go a long way towards meeting our immediate problems. Moreover, it would give us that very desirable export surplus.
In scientific circles there are serious misgivings as to the methods that have been adopted by the Minister of Fuel and Power to deal with this aspect of the coal problem. For instance, Professor P. M. S. Blackett, in his presidential address to the Association of Scientific Workers, of which I am a member, in May last, said:The Government failed at an early date to realise the scientific, technological and statistical problems which would arise in connection with the fuel policy of the country. It was obvious that the recovery and general prospects of the country depended upon the well-planned and efficient production, transport and use of coal.One might have expected that the Ministry of Fuel and Power would have been immediately strengthened technically and scientifically, using the experience of the 628 war years of rapid technological development or the use of research and levelopment contacts, especially of the method of operational research.
One has only to compare the number of technical personnel of the headquarters' staff of the Ministry of Fuel and Power with, say the Ministry of Supply or the Admiralty, to realise the extent of the failure to do this. This is the opinion of an eminent scientist who has given great service to the country during the last war. I know that sympathy should be extended to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Fuel and Power, who has just undertaken the major administrative task of nationalising the coal mines, and has moreover inherited from the previous Government a Department of marked technological weakness. I would ask my right hon. Friend to bear these points in mind and to try to remedy the defects as soon as possible.
I would like to draw the attention of the Committee to the savings that could be made by the application of scientific methods in the utilisation of our coal output. For instance, the Fuel Efficiency Committee of the Ministry of Fuel and Power have, during the course of their existence, made.a saving of from five million to ro million tons annually. That has been achieved virtually without any new plant whatsoever. Now that we are undertaking measures of re-equipment in industry and now that we are building new towns and are building hundreds of thousands of new houses, I do urge that the maximum consideration should be given to the question of fuel efficiency in those undertakings. The re-equipment of industry and of the domestic side to save coal should be high on the Government's list of priorities.
An eminent fuel authority has stated during the last 12 months, that out of an annual output of 180 million tons, if industry and commerce were remodelled so as to extract the maximum fuel from the coal they use, the saving would be 80 million tons a year. This is possibly on the optimistic side, having regard to the difficulties of supply at the present time, but the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, in their recent interim report, have estimated that a saving of 20 million tons could be effected. This should be regarded as a short-term target for economy to be achieved from fuel efficiency.
629 The domestic field absorbs a large quantity of our annual output of coal. Taking into consideration the domestic consumption of gas and electricity, the estimate is 60 million tons a year, nearly one-third of our output. In the report on domestic fuel policy, issued by the Fuel and Power Advisory Council, in Command Paper 6762, there is this comment:We have shown that our coal is used for domestic heating with a degree of inefficiency which is not, so far as we can ascertain, even approached by any other country in the world. Quite apart from the resulting high cost to the householder, this inefficiency causes the waste of many millions of tons of our coal reserves per annum. We are using excessive quantities of coal. We are providing inadequate heating in houses. We are pouring out masses of soot and tar into the atmosphere. In our view, we cannot afford to maintain our low standard of heating. We cannot afford to continue to depress and destroy the life of our cities by smoke pollution. We cannot afford to waste our limited national coal reserves.This is, of course, a long-term problem, but a start should be made at once.
A very small point which occurs to me and which has come to me from my experience as a borough councillor is: How many architects can design houses or dwellings for maximum heating efficiency? I think there is great room for improvement here. Turning to domestic appliances, I would point out that the open coalfire grate is only 12 per cent. to 20 per cent. efficient. Modern gas or coke stoves or grates can achieve efficiency of up to 50 per cent. especially if the appliances in a dwelling are balanced one against another. In the electrical industry we find that the efficiency of generation of electricity is only about 21 per cent.
There are, further, dynamic reasons why this efficiency cannot be increased, however well the engineer designs his plant. By the time that the domestic consumer receives his electricity, its efficiency, owing to distribution losses, is probably nearer to 15 per cent. than anything else. Therefore, we should reduce the domestic load on the electricity system and replace it by methods and appliances having a greater economy in fuel.
There are some people today who take the view that coal is obsolescent, and who say that in a very short time the use of atomic energy will have taken its place. So far as I know, the only known method of using atomic energy industrially or domestically would be to use an atomic 630 pile to heat water and generate steam from which we could produce electricity. An estimate of the cost has been made by authorities who say that electricity from those sources would be at least 25 per cent. above the current price of electricity. In any case, only 12½ per cent. of our coal output is used for the generation of electricity. Before electricity from atomic sources could replace electricity produced from coal and, especially, replace the coal used in industry, it would have to be a great deal cheaper than electricity produced from coal today. I do not think there is any immediate prospect of atomic electricity being produced at such a cheap rate. It is absolutely essential that as much effort and research should be concentrated upon the efficient consumption of our coal as upon the production problem. I hope that I have been able to persuade the Parliamentary Secretary that this is so and that as a result, urgent and immediate consideration will be given to the proper utilisation of our coal resources.
§ 5.22 p.m.
§ Mr. Frank Byers (Dorset, Northern)
It is my extremely pleasant task to convey to the hon. and gallant Member for North Paddington (Captain Field) the most hearty congratulations of the hon. Members of this Committee upon his maiden speech. We always listen with great interest and great appreciation to speeches which are as thoughtful, as lucid and as topical as the one he has just made. I am sure that he can with pleasure report to his friends and constituents that, as he has acquitted himself so well today, we shall be only too anxious to hear him again in the future.
We are indebted to the Minister for the speech he made this afternoon. It gave us much more information than we have had in the past. I welcome that new departure and hope that it will be kept up. I am slightly worried about the picture he painted and would like to clarify it in my own mind, because it was quite obvious that certain facts and figures were being selected—I do not say dishonestly, but they were being selected —and the impression I got was that we had a chance of getting the 200 million tons target by the end of the year, or we might be four million tons short. Could we have, in clearer terms, what the Minister really thinks? Does he think we 631 shall be four million tons short and get only 196 million tons, or shall we reach the 200 million tons mark?
The next milestone was exports. I was delighted to hear the Minister say that next year we should begin to get a trickle of coal for the export market, but on what figure is that based? Is that over and above the 220 million tons which we regard as the minimum, or is it some figure over and above the 200 million tons which we know will not be enough? While I would welcome any idea of exporting coal, I cannot believe that we shall be able to export coal as soon as we get past the 200 million tons mark. We shall not be able to do it until we get the 220 million tons' mark. I should like to hear from the Parliamentary Secretary if there is some sort of phased programme in mind. I do not think the House would want to tie him down to it as in the case of a housing target and say, "Ha ha, you said so much last year, and now you are two million tons down," but it would be very helpful to the country if, given certain conditions—and let us have the conditions specified—he would say whether he thinks we can reach the 200 million tons' mark, or whether he thinks we shall reach the 220 million tons' mark and at what point he recommends that we should be able to export coal?
I will now deal with the question of absenteeism, again, to get clarification. I do not understand the Minister's reference to the 10 per cent. of the miners who are slackers. He used the phrase at Rothesay and in the Debate today. He referred to absenteeism arising from two causes—voluntary and involuntary—and lumped them both together. I do not think there is much one can do about involuntary absenteeism, except to try to improve the conditions in the pits so that there are not so many accidents and so forth, but, surely, it is with voluntary absenteeism that we must concern ourselves? That showed a remarkable decrease immediately the five-day week came in but now it is gradually going up again. If the figure for the whole is 11 per cent., it is reasonable to assume that voluntary absenteeism is 6 or 7 per cent.
This is the point. The Minister says that this absenteeism is attributable to about 10 per cent. of the miners; in other 632 words, 90 per cent. of the miners work flat out all the time for five shifts a week and the other 10 per cent. are the boys who cause these bad statistics. Is that possible? Does it not mean that the 10 per cent. are working only two shifts a week? I do not understand that. If they are working only two shifts a week, they are not miners but statistics. We might as well write them off from the coal industry. A man cannot live on what he earns by two shifts a week. He must have some other means of living. He is no longer a miner. He must have something round the corner.
§ Mr. Byers
He is on the books, but he is a statistic and not a miner. Is that what is happening? Is it that 10 per cent. of the miners are working one or two shifts a week—I cannot believe that is happening—or that a very high proportion of miners are taking one shift off a week or one a fortnight? The reason why I put the question is that the treatment of those two cases is entirely different. In one case it shows that the system is all right and that 10 per cent. of the men are all wrong. In the other case, because we have a very high proportion taking off odd shifts, it means that there is something wrong with the system. Has there been a scientific inquiry comparing absenteeism in different pits—pits with low figures and pits with high figures? If so, what have been the deductions? Do we know the cause of the absenteeism? Is it, as is suggested, that it is easy to dodge round this six days' pay for a five-day week? Is it P.A.Y.E.? Is anything being done to find out what the cause is?
§ Mr. Byers
The Minister says, "Yes, it is." Well, can we be told? I supported the nationalisation of the mines and I do not withdraw one iota. All these arguments about nationalisation versus private enterprise are so much "hooey." We should have had so many industrial disputes at the present time under private ownership that we should have got hardly any coal. Having supported the nationalisation of the mines, I have a right to know what is being done about absenteeism in the mines. What are the causes and what action is being taken by 633 the National Coal Board upon the deductions it makes? Is it a question of getting rid of these men who work only one shift a week—
§ Mr. Byers
—or a question of reorganising the system so that we give proper incentives to the people to go on working a five-day week regularly? I raise this because at the Rothesay conference recently we heard threats to prosecute miners. I do not believe that will get us anywhere. It is absolute madness to think that we can rely upon prosecution. It we are contemplating prosecution, it is proof that there is something wrong with the system, and the sooner we put the system right the better. Having got it right, you will not need prosecutions. I believe you will affront one of the most independent sections of the British community, namely, the miners, by threatening prosecution. If you threaten prosecution to 10 per cent. who work only one shift a week, what good will that do? Why not get rid of the chaps? If you threaten prosecution to the majority of the miners, all you will do is to get them up in arms against you.
§ Mr. Shinwell
I am afraid the hon. Member must have misunderstood the position. The statement made by the Chairman of the National Coal Board was that the Coal Board might have to consider invoking sanctions, but that was not in connection with absenteeism; that was in connection with unofficial disputes. Where the miners are on contract to give a certain number of days' notice, it is held to be illegal to engage in a lightning strike. It was not for the reason of absenteeism.
§ Mr. Byers
I am glad the Minister has intervened to clear that up, because my impression was that prosecutions were contemplated by them for unofficial strikes and for the individual absentee. Might I ask the right hon. Gentleman or his Parliamentary Secretary this question? If we are contemplating prosecutions against unofficial strikes, would he say what sort of prosecutions? Are these civil proceedings in the county courts for breach of contract or criminal proceedings under the Defence Regulations?
§ Mr. Shinwell
This is a quite common procedure which has been going on for 634 a long series of years. Frequently men have been prosecuted for breaches of contract under private ownership. All the National Coal Board suggested was that they might continue the same procedure. I want to make it quite clear that I cannot myself be held as agreeing with prosecutions.
§ 5.32 p.m.
§ Mr. Daggar (Abertillery)
Even though we were permitted to continue this Debate until the recognised time, I would still hold the opinion that whatever is said during this Debate cannot improve upon a statement contained in the White Paper called the "Economic Survey for 1947." In that document stress is laid upon the fact thatThe present crisis underlines the basic importance of coal, and of power derived from coal. Exports, industrial re-equipment, housing, the supply of consumer goods, transport and distribution all depend upon coal. The 1947 industrial problem is fundamentally a problem of coalThat is simply an extended variant of the statement that some of us who have been described as miners' representatives have made repeatedly in this House, that everything in this country leads back to coal, and that there is no complete solution of a single one of our economic problems without coal and more coal. Such repetition in this Chamber has bred contempt. Innumerable have been the occasions upon which we have pointed out that the mining industry has shown signs of decadence during the last 23 years. This is part of my reply to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Southport (Mr. R. S. Hudson) who replied to the Minister on behalf of the Conservative Party and, if he will permit me to say it, I have never seen him in such an unhappy position.
§ Mr. Daggar
Whatever may be said about private enterprise and the output of coal today, in that period it decreased by over 93 million tons. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, the output in 1923 was 276 million tons; in 1945—a year to which he will take no exception, although the mines belonged to private enterprise —it was only 183 million tons, with the 635 result that exports were down by over go million tons during the same period.
§ Mr. Daggar
During the whole of that 23 years there has been a continuous, unrelieved, uninterrupted decline in output. Things could not have been worse if the mines had been administered by a set of old women.
§ Mr. Daggar
These figures enable me to make this observation, which is my reply to the right hon. Gentleman, that no Government and no board can revive in six months an industry that has been dying for 23 years. A former Member of this House, whose politics I never share, is one of the few persons who have talked sense about this problem of more coal. He stated in June of this year that until British mines are reshaped, replanned and completely furnished with up-to-date machinery, we cannot begin to emerge from our difficulties. Strangely enough, he is the individual who has now been enticed to join the Conservative Party namely the Right Hon. Leslie Hore-Belisha.
I think there is more nonsense talked about this subject of coal than any other subject which is brought under discussion in this House. When the need for coal is raised, some hon. Members speak as if a mine were similar to a workshop, while the difference between the two is almost as great as the difference between a field and a factory. That inability to appreciate the difference is responsible for the not only impossible, but absurd remedies that are suggested. A glaring example of this incapacity is the suggestion that what is required to effect an early solution to this "more coal" problem is the addition of another 100,000 men to the existing number of mineworkers. If it be true that fools step in where angels fear to tread, it is equally true that experts and, indeed, economists have also a capacity to step in. This suggestion was made by no less an authority than Professor Lionel Robbins in a letter contributed to "The Times" on 14th February. There need be no doubt about the early solution of the problem, because here is a quotation from the letter: 636I make so bold as to say that, tiniest-something of this sort "—That is, getting 100,000 men to go into the mining industry—takes place in the next few months, the domestic situation next winter will be as bad as it is now ….
§ Mr. Daggar
If professional advice would produce coal, there would never be a shortage in this country. This remedy is proposed regardless of whether there are places available or could be made available for such a large number. It may be possible, certainly not in a few, months, to absorb those additional men, but even if that were achieved, would the existing shafts permit of the winding of additional coal? At present there are many pits in this country that are raising coal to their full capacity. Were the pit a factory, it would be comparatively easy to build an extension, but in mining it may take years to absorb an increased number of men. While I agree that further mechanisation may be necessary and possible, it should never be forgotten that the present shafts were sunk for dealing with coal produced by hand, and not all of them are suitable for raising an increased quantity of coal, due to modern machine production. Many of the supposed remedies are part of a long-term policy. I wish the meddling mortals would read "The Times" leader of 24th February. "The Times" pointed out:The most crippling shortage of all, that of coal, can be considerably reduced by in creased output within the existing facilities though the coal industry cannot be made efficient and economic without tactical reorganisation and re-equipment.Here is another instance of the appalling ignorance that still exists regarding the life of a mineworker. It is found in the "Western Mail," our Welsh paper, dated 15th July:Mr Justice Lewis, when told in a cast that a mineworker had to walk four miles to a colliery, commented, 'I thought everybody was taken to the collieries in motorcars these days.'That is either an example of appalling ignorance, or of brilliant irony. Some of us are convinced that the output of coal can be increased within the existing facilities. That object will not be achieved by keeping the miner on the rack. For years miners have -been, and still are, bullied, abused, criticised, condemned—
§ Mr. Daggar
They are censured, exhorted, and lectured upon the need for more coal. I ask who has paid a higher price for coal than the miner? He has paid not only in disease and disability, but has also paid in death, and he has grown impervious to these attacks. Without him and his products—and the representative of coal consumers can tell the country this—this country cannot survive.
I want to say a word or two about absenteeism. On 26th of last month we had a Debate in this House on the fuel emergency, and I had to listen with others to the rasping, ranting observations of the hon Member for the Hallam Division (Mr. Jennings), who appears to know about as much about the cause of absenteeism in the mines as absenteeism knows about him. With all his boasted courage, he lacks sufficient of that quality to describe what he thought was its cause. He implied that it was due to the absence of a desire to work. I consider that fatigue is a factor in the cause of absenteeism. Event before the war, mines inspectors in their reports pointed out that fatigue was an important factor in the high death and accident rate in the mines. Any measures to reduce the amount of absenteeism should be taken immediately. In addition to suitable and sufficient food, no remedy is of more importance than the provision of "man-riding" facilities in the pit. The Reid Report stated:A survey made by the Ministry in 1943 showed that of 615 collieries employing 250 men or more underground, no less than 407 were working faces more than 2,000 yards from the shaft bottom, to and from which there was no provision of man-riding.Collieries in South Wales are in such a state that it is unsafe for a man to be ridden to his work. Pits are in such a state that it has been admitted that it would require £300 million to be spent on modernised production equipment.
The Report also states:With our present, normal working day of 7½ hours, it is not unusual for the time available at the face to be as little as five hours.The fatigue can be reduced by making provision for men to be ridden to their 638 work. I have instances of men who before they reach the pit top have to travel by one to four buses and a train in addition. There has been much talk about making the industry attractive. In a sense, no object could be more fantastic, absurd, and impossible. The industry has become disease-ridden, dirty and dangerous. Before the change of ownership no person could recommend the mining industry as suitable employment for any member of his family. In time it may be less injurious to health, and it could be made less dangerous, but if attractiveness demands cleanliness, we will never make it clean. These observations do not mean it is impossible to attract persons to the industry if we improve the conditions of employment, and make the employment worthwhile. Five pounds a week, although it may be a minimum, is not an attractive amount for which to work five days in a pit. Provide them with the amount and quality of food that will enable them to work. Until that is done, no one has a right, even individuals described as "consumers representatives" to preach at, or to lecture the miners, or the right to prate about absenteeism.
I make another suggestion, not that it may be considered in preference to those which emanate from journalists, economists and experts, but simply because I want to make it. If we want more coal it is necessary, whatever the consequences, to increase the quality and quantity of consumer goods of all kinds. It is time we modified this policy of austerity and export madness—at least for a period, even a short period. The trouble is that most of the theorists ride their theories to death I am not seeking favours nor privileges for the miners alone. I believe that such a variation would benefit all workers, and any measure that would confer benefits upon them, would soon prove advantageous to the whole nation. Then again, if we require an increased effort on the part of miners—many of whom have never had a decent wage—we cannot expect them, because of improved wages, to hand a substantial portion to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I submit there should be further relief from the payment of Income Tax by miners. In some respects that would be equivalent to an increase in wages.
639 We believe there is a right and a wrong approach to the miners. We believe that absenteeism can be reduced, and we claim that the mineworker is entitled to a form of administration of the mining industry in which he has complete confidence. That is not the position today, especially in South Wales, where the last appointment to a board or to a subordinate office was that of the secretary of the coal owners association. We are convinced that with a ready, quick and efficient system of dealing with disputes and settling them unofficial strikes would soon be things of the past. We also say that greater executive power should be given to pit production committees. Conditions of employment and wages should be improved, and further consideration should be given to the amount of Income Tax paid by the miners. I also believe that there should be an increase of consumer goods in the mining districts. With these improvements, and many others, which can be effected within the existing facilities, this nation can still acquire the coal it wants so badly.
§ 5.52 p.m.
§ Mr. Raikes (Liverpool, Wavertree)
I do not often feel sorry for the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Fuel and Power, but I felt a little sorry for him during the last quarter of an hour in having to hear the speech of the hon. Member for Abertillery (Mr. Daggar), which I should think was about as irresponsible a speech as could have been made in this House from the point of view of recruitment to the mines at the present time. I do not know, either, that it particularly assists the right hon. Gentleman in his efforts to deal with that very small number of irresponsible absentees which he, and indeed everybody else, admits to be a small but irreconcilable element, when they are described from the Benches behind him as merely gentlemen suffering from fatigue. I propose to be brief, and therefore I must not trail my coat too much, or I shall find myself replying to interruptions, although I do not mind that.
The right hon. Gentleman has drawn us a picture today which has been, on the whole, easy to follow. I wish to ask him one or two questions arising out of the Debate, which I am sure the Parliamentary Secretary will be prepared to answer. The first is one to which I attach a certain 640 importance. We have heard the present figures in regard to coal stocks, on which I will say a word in a moment. We have had no reference made to the present figure for coke stocks. I have been informed in various quarters that the stock of coke is considerably lower than it was last year. I think we ought to have the point brought out, for better or for worse. Secondly, when the right hon. Gentleman intervened when the hon. Member for North Dorset (Mr. Byers) was speaking, he referred to the suggestion of the chairman of the Coal Board about prosecutions in regard to unofficial disputes. I should like to have it clarified whether the speech which was made in the country the other day by the right hon. Gentleman himself, when he referred to the possible closing down of certain pits, related to unofficial disputes or absenteeism.
§ Mr. Shinwell
Perhaps I had better reply to that question at once. I pointed out that I was called upon, with the concurrence of the Scottish Mineworkers' Union, to take salutary action in the case of certain pits in Scotland where there had been a succession of unofficial disputes, and where the output was exceptionally low. Taking those two factor into account, I closed those pits. I think it desirable to pursue that line in cases where the same conditions apply.
§ Mr. Raikes
I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman. That clarifies the matter. On the face of it, to deal with absenteeism by closing a few pits appeared to be rather absurd.
On the question of output, the right hon. Gentleman has given his figures, and it is common ground that if the figures during the second six months of this year are the same as the figures for the first six months, the total for the year will be short of the target of 200 million tons by between three million and four million tons, practically the figure to which the "Daily Herald" referred the other day. The Committee should bear in mind that the miner's weekly holiday has yet to come. Do not let the Committee misunderstand me by thinking that I am objecting to the weekly holiday, but if one takes into consideration the weekly holiday and the normal stoppages for August Bank Holiday and two days at Christmas, and if the average output for the first six months of the year is only 641 maintained during the second six months, apart from those particular dates, we are in danger of having about six million tons less during that period of seven, nine or II days in which men will not be working. Although I do not hold the view that in point of fact that figure will be not four million tons but ten milion tons, it might very well be seven million.
I should be interested if the Parliamentary Secretary could give us any indication as to certain other ways in which that deficit could be met. For example, we have been told that stocks stand at about 10½ million tons. I think that was the figure given for 5th July. Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary could say by how much stocks increased in 1946 between July and the end of October. I think the increase was two million tons, not more. That would mean, if there was an increase in stocks of two million tons between now and the end of October, that the figure would then be 12½ million tons, which would be at least three million tons below what might be described as the safety level. Does the Parliamentary Secretary consider that he will be able to make further economies in consumption, as against last year, in the months that lie ahead between now and the end of October? Does he envisage the likelihood of getting, from outside the country, by means of his Department's import policy, more than half a million tons between now and the end of October. The Minister —I am not blaming him for it—was a little vague as to when those deliveries would come in, but it does not appear that imports between now and the beginning of the next coal year are to be such as to affect very substantially the stock position.
I welcome the fact that exports have been considerably lower this year than last. I welcome wisdom even when it comes late in the day. In view of what coal stocks were in April, 1946, it might well have been advisable for the economies made in exports this year to have been made last year. It would have had some effect on that problem at that time. Hon. Members opposite will appreciate that although we on this side of the Committee welcome what increase in stocks there is as against last year, we are nevertheless greatly perturbed, because the situation is a bad one. Stocks at this moment would be only precisely the same as stocks on 642 the same date in 1946 were it not for the fact that 1½ million tons of consumption was saved between the beginning of January and 31st May. The Government might well bear that in mind.
It is stated that we are to get considerable further advantages from mechanisation. When I hear it stated at the same time by an hon. Member opposite that the technical department of the Mines Department was pretty bad when the Government took over, I should like to remind the Committee that it was during the period of office of my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Pembroke (Major Lloyd George) that the Reid Report was produced. Probably that is the best technical report to be produced in this generation. I should like to have some guidance from the Parliamentary Secretary about how far and in what way the Reid Report is being implemented and in what way the hon. Member expects to implement it in the days that lie ahead. I do not propose to speak for more than another two minutes, although on this subject I could go on for a very long time.
In conclusion, I would say that although the figure after the hold-up and everything else, so far as stock is concerned is slightly better than the zero year of 1946, the position is not one which can cause anything but the gravest disquiet in the months that lie ahead. On the figures as they stand, the 200 million tons seems unlikely to be obtained in this calendar year. If it is not obtained, if we fail by four, five, six or even seven million tons, we know, as the Lord President of the Council said only last week, that we shall be faced, as he put it mildly, with the same inconvenience as we suffered last year. We shall continue to prod and jab the Government into doing something. I only wish that there was some sign that they had a plan in their heads to meet the situation.
§ 6.2 p.m.
§ Mr. Pryde (Midlothian and Peebles, Southern)
Some very interesting views have been put forward in this Debate. I have closely followed the Debates in Committee of Supply during the last six weeks and I have been most interested to notice that coal obtruded itself into all of them. The subject arose in Scottish housing and in the Debate on the import programme, while on the last occasion a 643 full-dress coal Debate developed out of the discussion on productivity of labour. On that occasion hon. Members opposite went to the length of asking what Arthur Horner was going to do about it. Arthur Horner's name cropped up again on a second occasion, and the senior Burgess for Oxford University (Sir A. Salter) told us of miners getting special advantages in the shape of extra food, cheap coal, etc. Hon. Members wanted to know what the miner was going to do in exchange.
I am sick and tired of hearing the miners being blamed for the condition of the coal industry today. I think the Minister of Fuel and Power gave us a very fair picture of the position. There were certain things with which I did not agree and I hope to deal with those points before I sit down. It has been put to us that there must be an increase in the number of miners. I am glad to say that in Scotland this week Mr. James Barbour, an ex-President of the National Union of Scottish Mineworkers, intimated that in Lanarkshire, the home of coal-mining in Scotland, there had been an increase of something like 3,600 miners in the pits of Scotland. I say without fear of contradiction that that additional recruitment is a response to the five-day week which we have introduced.
In reply to the question, "What is Mr. Arthur Horner going to do about it," I want to say that this is placing the Secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers in a false position. It is thinking in terms of John L. Lewis of America. The National Union of Mineworkers is the most democratic of all the unions. Mr. Horner does not belong to the same political party as myself, and we shall never see eye to eye on many subjects, but I will allow no man to depreciate his work in the economic field and in the field of mining in this country. Horner knows his business. It would be far better if hon. Members opposite dealt with the question which is at issue. That question is one of manpower for British mines. Let us see who has been responsible for the exodus of workers from the mines. I will quote from only one day's proceedings in this House. I ask hon. Members to consult the OFFICIAL REPORT for Tuesday, 24th April, 1928. My hon. Friend who is now Postmaster-General asked the then Secretary for Mines the 644 number of collieries closed down in Great Britain since January, 1927, and the answer was:Since 1st January, 1927, 769 pits in Great Britain normally employing 80,800 wage-earners, have closed down and not reopened. Of these, 273 pits employing 14,800 wage-earners have been definitely abandonedMr. Tom Johnston, who was at that time the Member for Dundee, asked whether it was true that the owners were compensated for loss of profits, and what was the position of the mineworkers. The answer was:The miners who are displaced have the ordinary facilities provided by the Government for unemployment pay.On the same day, my right hon. Friend who is now Secretary of State for Scotland, who then represented Peebles and South Midlothian, asked:… the number of employees engaged in and about the mines in the Counties of Stirlingshire and Mid and East Lothian, respectively, in December, 5924 and 1925, and February, 1928, or the nearest date to that for which figures are available."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th April, 1928; Vol. 256, C. 790–1.]He received a reply that in Stirling, Edinburgh and Haddington in Decemer, 1924, there were 26,691 mineworkers, but in February, 1928, there were 19,646, a difference of 7,045. Since 1921, over 1,500 collieries have been closed in this country. Today we are told that mineworkers are at a premium. A year ago I stood in this House and told hon. Members that there was only one way in which to recruit the necessary labour. I detract nothing from what has been said by my colleague, the hon. Member for Abertillery (Mr. Daggar). He and I know the facts. Nevertheless, I believe in the Coal Board. I believe that if the industry had been left to private enterprise Great Britain today would have been in chaos.
§ Mr. Pryde
We have nationalised the mines and the managers are drawn from the ranks of the working classes Nine out of every 10 of them will see that loyalty is their key word. The men can be depended upon to do their duty, because their lives and their bread and butter are invested in the industry. A fortnight ago the hon. Member for Cannock (Miss Lee), herself a daughter of the mining industry, gave the Coal Board 645 very good advice when she told them that it would be wise tor them to switch their agents, because the son would never serve the man who had victimised the father. That does not apply to the managers, but it applies to the agents. It would be well for the Minister of Fuel to note that and attempt to carry out the suggestion in the same way as I am glad to see the Coal Board is following my advice in regard to drift mining, because deep pits cannot save the industry in the immediate future.
In my own constituency there was one great mine which was the show place of Scotland, the Lady Victoria Pit at New Battle. It was commenced in 1890 and not finished until 1894, and it cost one guinea per inch in those days to sink through the common stone. It will be readily understood that it is impossible to sink new pits into deep levels to meet the requirements of Britain in her present situation, but drift mining must be the order of the day. In South Midlothian, where, according to history, the first licence was given to a man to mine coal, we have on the banks of the North Esk, 20 workable seams of the finest household coal in Britain, and possibly in the world, and of the highest calorific value; and, on the other bank of the South Esk, we have 14 seams of coal of the highest calorific value. Between the two we have four seams of high grade coal and clay of such quality that would make Fletton blush, but these are not being fully exploited because the men who should be doing the job are away in other industries. We can only get those men back by offering inducements, and that is the only way to balance recruitment to the various industries. Men will not go into the coal industry if they can get better terms in other industries, and the young men should be offered inducements in regard to Income Tax.
Absenteeism has been referred to. Let me give an illustration of something I came across at the weekend from three men who came to me in my own town. They said to me, "Look at this. Cannot you do anything about it? We went out to go to work the other morning by the bus, but the bus did not turn up, and we had to go home again. We lost that shift. We did not mind that so much, but we also lost the bonus." I am going to ask that the Coal Board should see that, when they do hammer out an agreement, 646 the miner will not be penalised by losing a shift through circumstances over which he has no control. Mention has been made of prosecutions in connection with absenteeism, and the case I have just mentioned is an illustration of how men would be classified as voluntary absentees in the industry because they fail to reach the colliery and report for work. In this case, there was no regular bus service, because the bus which took the men to work in the morning does not ply for hire during the day, and, in order to get to the colliery, these men would have had to make a great detour. Because of the uselessness of that situation they decided to go home; nevertheless, they are classified as voluntary absentees.
We are told that the chairman of the National Coal Board is contemplating prosecutions. The Duke of Argyll told the then Queen of England, when she said she was going to turn Scotland into a hunting ground, that he would require to go up and get his hounds ready. When the National Coal Board starts prosecutions in Scotland—and we regard prosecutions as anathema—I shall be going up to organise the prison warders. I do not believe in that policy. People have been told that, because of unofficial stoppages, pits were going to be closed. I do not believe in that policy, either. I believe that the men can be disciplined. Surely, hon. Members on those Benches—
Mr. McKie (Galloway)
On a point of Order—
§ Mr. Pryde
I know perfectly well that the men will take it in good part. I extend my sympathy to the right hon. Member for Southport (Mr. R. S. Hudson) today in attempting to criticise an institution which is only six months old. In a previous Debate, I was in a somewhat similar position. In other industries, people can see men at work, and often see those who are not at work. In agriculture, they can see the men actually at work, but they cannot lift the lid off and see the impossible postures in which the miners are working. A man may be working at a colliery where there are no baths, because not all collieries have baths, and the result is that, if he is awakened in the morning and does not feel fit to go to work but lies still in bed 647 instead, there is no excuse for him; he has not been to work and he is an absentee. I am going to ask hon. Members who criticise the men who go down into the bowels of the earth to remember the philosophy of the old man who taught me the rudiments of mining. He said "When you go contracting, remember never to ask a man to do what you are not prepared to do yourself."
§ 6.17 p.m.
§ Colonel Lancaster (Fylde)
I am afraid I shall have to cut my remarks very short, because time is against me. The Minister, in his opening speech, gave the Committee a number of figures, and adduced from those figures certain trends. I think it would be wholly misleading to attempt to relate the early months of this year to those of last year. To my way of thinking, the early months of 1946 showed the end of the postwar period, and, from that time to the end of the year, there was a steady, gradual but consistent rise. The disturbing thing which we have to consider today is that that trend has been no more than maintained, and the results of the most recent weeks have shown an alarming recession from that level. It is impossible to deduce, in a short Debate like this, any consensus of opinion about the causes for all this.
I think that, running through the Minister's speech was a deep anxiety about the matter of absenteeism. I will only say this on that subject. So far—and I do not put this point in a party manner—we have not been able to solve this vexed problem of how to maintain a high level of production and attendance while providing the incentive of the highest wage rate in the whole field of British industry without the necessary counterpart of adequate sanctions. It is, however, a problem which we have to solve. It is, if not the underlying problem, one which is in many ways the most important I want to make a brief reference to the question of costs, and I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will deal with it. After all, seven months have gone by without figures of costs, whereas previously, they were produced on a monthly basis, regionally and nationally. We have had, in seven months, no figures on which to base any conclusion. I want to say straightaway that, in my opinion, whether or no we solve these various problems 648 which have been referred to by hon. Members in all parts of the Committee, no short-term or long-term benefit will be obtained unless the underlying cause—the maladministration of this industry—can be solved.
I do not think that the framework in which the National Coal Board are required to function and the organisation set up in consequence is one by which we are going to solve this task, a task which, I think the country is beginning to recognise, is an immense one. It has resulted in the setting up of an industrial empire greater than anything that has been attempted previously. There is nothing comparable to it in the world. The nearest analogy is, possibly, the General Motors Corporation of America, and even that great company has rather less than half the number of men who are employed in or about this industry. Whatever service that company renders to the community, its significance, both socially and economically, in no way corresponds to that of the British mining industry.
Let me at once make it plain that I am making no criticism about the individual members of the Board. They are eminent men in their different spheres, and I am quite certain that they are giving loyal service to this industry. But we are not here to consider them in their individual capacities. What we have to consider is—are they part of an organisation which is capable of solving this problem? It is not a political problem; it is an industrial problem. If we attempt to apply a political approach through the methods of Civil Service control, with its emphasis on uniformity, to this highly diversified industry, we shall fail.
What is the present situation? A National Coal Board has been set up consisting of a board of management composed of functioning executives—men of the highest attainments in their separate spheres, but lacking experience of administrative organisation on so vast a scale. Those who have been closely connected with coal-getting as such, are the chairman, who had a long and distinguished career on the distributive side, and Sir Charles Reid and Mr. Young, the two foremost mining engineers in the country. But technical abilities and administrative ability are two very different matters. That is a fact generally accepted throughout the United States. The Germans, with 649 their passion for technical qualifications, never made the mistake of confusing these qualities at the level of the Sindicat; at that level administration was supreme.
At the next level—the division—the position is aggravated. The Board decided that independent men should be appointed as chairmen of these divisions. At best, independence is an ephemeral quality, but when it is accompanied by an almost total lack of experience of this industry, it may be very costly. The individuals selected, worthy men, no doubt, were drawn from the Services and the professions. They were amateurs confronted with a tremendous problem of industrial organisation. I made the analogy a few minutes ago that the General Motors Corporation of America approximated in some way to this National Coal Board. Each of these divisional areas is as great in its complexity, scope and variation as the combined maritime fleets of the P. & O., Cunard, and White Star Lines. That immense conglomeration of factors is dealt with at that level by men who previously had no experience of industrial organisation whatsoever. They have under them boards of management representative of the functional members of the National Board. They are no more than pale reflections of the National Coal Board, and control at this level is vertical, not horizontal.
Finally we come to the operating level, the area where results are obtained. Here they have appointed as general managers technicians, men who were previously in technical control of, say, one or, maybe, two million tons of output. In one fell swoop they have had to increase their control to cover a matter of, say, five million tons; they have had to merge and bring into one cohesive whole possibly as many as a dozen separate pits. They have had to unify the staffs of those pits into a single unit. They have had to maintain, and, if possible, increase their tonnage, and at the same time lay the foundations of the reforms envisaged in the Reid recommendations. To help them they have a board of management of heads of Departments drawn from the managerial level.
To whom can those men turn for help and advice? Not to their own board of management whose officials have no experience of administration on an area, or, 650 indeed, on a pit level. To the divisional chairman, who has little or no experience of this industry, or to the divisional production executive, another technician who at this moment should be wholly immersed in surveying and planning both the short-term and the long-term developments in his division? There is no time to consider the administrative problems which arise from day to day, and which confront this manager, hitherto a man who had no great administrative experience, and who has, overnight, had to take on this immensely enlarged area of responsibility. Can it be wondered that he is rapidly becoming a worried, overwrought, and harassed individual? I would like to quote one thing which the Minister said in this regard, when we were pressing him during the Committee stage of the Bill to say who would be in charge of these areas. He said:Those groups"—he meant areas—being under the supervision of a highly competent administrator who may, or may not, be a technician; it depends on the circumstances. Some technicians are competent administrators, some are not."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th May, 5946; Vol. 423, c 145.]It would appear that his principle was very hurriedly thrown overboard.
I will now return for a moment to the National Coal Board. During the Committee stage and the Third Reading of the Bill, my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) pressed the Minister very strongly to set up a body concerned with policy making and supervision. The Minister, however, decreed that the Board should act as a board of management, constituted of functioning departmental heads. The result, of course, has been that they do, in fact, act in this capacity, and departmental directions descend in a steady vertical stream to divisional headquarters, where parallel executives have to pass them on for area consumption. At the area, they converge on one man, the area general manager, a man who, as I have shown, has, in many cases, very little administrative experience. Can it be wondered, as I said, that he is rapidly becoming a worried, overworked, harassed man? We must remember that he occupies a lonely position. Hitherto he has had the opportunity of turning to his managing director, to his chair- 651 man, or to other members of the board and discussing his problems with them. Now, at fortnightly or monthly intervals, he attends a divisional board meeting where matters of an administrative nature are discussed, and the more he discusses those matters the less useful he is as a technician. He cannot go over to the adminstrative side and, at the same time, remain a good technician. A good technician has to remain on the job all the time.
For three months I acted in an advisory capacity on the Coal Board, on the area level. It was my opinion that the only purpose I could serve would be to give such advice, in conjunction with my divisional board, in regard to administrative policy as could be implemented by the area general manager. It was highly necessary that I should not usurp the area general manager's control of the general management of his area. During those three months my advice was never sought on a single problem. I think I had something to contribute. Since then, I have compared notes with other men similarly placed, and I have found that their experience was very much the same. But during those three months I did have the opportunity of watching this process in operation, and in what I am saying today I feel that I am voicing a reasonable criticism on the part of men on every level in the industry.
Hon. Members may ask what this has to do with day-to-day production, and how this would affect the amount of coal which has been raised in the first six months of this year. As all Members who have any experience of the industry know, there is such a thing as the rhythm of industry. It is brought about by good management, sound administration and, beyond everything, leadership. If at the head of affairs there is a man who is disturbed and overworked, living in a world of which he has no great experience, attempting to guide and lead, he is likely to fail. If he fails, the effect on the men is apparent straightaway and all the contributory causes, shoddy work, absenteeism, lightning strikes begin to show themselves. Let me be quite clear on this point. Miners respond to leadership as quickly and loyally as any section of the community. If I did not believe that, I should despair of the situation. But I do know that to be the fact. If 652 leadership is lacking, the effect will show itself immediately. The situation today is critical. I have felt for a number of months—and nothing the right hon. Gentleman has said today makes me feel otherwise—that we shall not raise more than 183 million tons of deep-mined coal this year. If that is so, it spells disaster. At least, it spells the end of our hopes of economic recovery. Even this low figure would be bearable, if we could feel that, meanwhile, the Reid recommendations were being implemented either as a short-term or a long-term matter, but as I have tried to show the Committee, the very men who should be using their technical abilities to carry out those recommendations are having to learn a new technique—that of administration—and they have not the time to do the work for which they were originally trained.
I submit that a complete and immediate overhaul of the organisation of the Coal Board is necessary. It should assume its proper role as a policy-making and a supervisory body. I believe the chairmen on the divisional levels should be replaced by men who have experience of administration. A profound mistake was made when this great wealth of experienced and trained men was cast aside. It is essential that the area general manager should be complete master in his own field. Unless and until he is, there will never be any decentralisation, and without decentralisation this business simply will not be made to work. The area general manager whether he be a technician or administrator, should have complete authority under the supervision of his divisional chairman. There should be no infringement of his control through Departmental channels, whether with regard to finance or distribution or labour relations or anything else. Without that, we cannot expect the area general manager, on whom the whole onus at this moment of producing the results falls, to get the required results or to give the leadership which will infuse the mien with the will to work.
This is a problem which transcends the individual. It is one on which the future, not only of this country but, in many ways, of Western Europe, depends At this moment decisions have got to be made. They should be made by the Prime Minister. The Government must decide whether to continue along this 653 road, with this failure to maintain the upward trend, or whether, even after only six months, we recognise the mistakes we have made and are prepared to correct them. If we do not do that, as my right hon. Friend the deputy-Leader of the Opposition said the other day, we may have a repetition of last winter, and the country will not forgive that. Unless there is re-organisation, and the minimum target of zoo million tons is obtained, this Government will stand condemned at the bar of history.
§ 6.38 p.m.
§ Mr. Blackburn (Birmingham, King's Norton)
I have been absolutely horrified by the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Fylde (Colonel Lancaster). The tone of this Debate has simply staggered me. This country is now faced with a situation which is at least as bad as that in 1940. The miners in the pits today are equivalent to the fighter pilots in the Battle of Britain in 1940, when they flew over the skies of Kent and Sussex and saved us from Fascist atrocity. No one can have a greater admiration for the miners than I have. I had the honour to command them in battle, and I have the greatest admiration for miners in the intolerable conditions in which they have to work, but an appeal must go out at the highest level, from the Prime Minister, to the miners. Let us say to them, "You are now the fighter pilots in the Battle of Britain." Let us tell the miners and everybody to work. We are now utterly dependent upon American charity. Is that a tolerable state of affairs for Socialists? Is it a good thing that we should know that our people will be starving next winter—I use my words with care—unless we succeed in getting further credits from those whom my hon. Friend the Member for Maldon (Mr. Driberg), with his infinite capacity for tact, calls the barbaric thugs of Detroit?
Let us face reality now. Let the Labour Government and the Prime Minister speak for Britain and for Socialists. At a gala of my divisional Labour Party, some of my own members, people who have fought fur 30 and 40 years for the nationalisation of the mines, came and spoke to me with the utmost anxiety about the coal situation. There is one thing we cannot afford to do, and that is to have one class of the workers hating another class of the worker. That is an intolerable thing. 654 We can never allow that to occur, but it would appear that that is about to happen.
I accuse the hon. and gallant Member for Fylde of an utter lack of any sense of reality. The issue is not whether we shall get through the next winter. The issue is whether or not we are going to succeed in producing 50 per cent. above our 1938 volume of exports. If we do not do that, or if we do not get another loan from America, our people will be in danger of suffering a decline in their standard of living, with less food, leading to lower productivity, and I shall be ashamed to be a Member of this Parliament, let alone a member of the Labour Party. That is an intolerable position. Let the voice of Britain speak now. I hope that my hon. Friend—I have the greatest respect for him—in his speech will realise that we want 210 million tons of coal this year. We can get it. But we cannot get it unless we are prepared to appeal to the miners to work voluntarily, with extra rates of pay on Saturdays, or, alternatively, to work 8½ hours instead of 7½ hours. We have to face this problem. We cannot run away from it.
§ Mr. Blackburn
Either we are going to become utterly dependent on American charity or the workers are going to prove that Socialism can work. The The miners will do it. Nothing can ruin Socialism but the Socialists. We are the Government of the country now, not those hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. They are not the Government. We are the Government. We can prove that Socialism can work, and I appeal to the Minister to do all that he can to that end.
§ 6.42 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Fuel and Power (Mr. Gaitskell)
I hope my hon. Friend will understand that if, instead of spending my time talking about the dollar problem, I reply to some of the points made in the Debate, it is not because of any lack of appreciation on my part of the serious nature of that problem or of its connection with the coal situation. My right hon. Friend, at the end of his long and interesting statement, said that he was prepared to consider any constructive suggestions that would help us in dealing with this problem. I do not think that, it is 655 really appropriate for me to spend the very short time I have at my disposal in party polemics, and, therefore, I hope that hon. Members opposite and my hon. Friends behind me will excuse me if I become severely practical and deal with the concrete issues.
The hon. Member for Wavertree (Mr. Raikes) asked me one or two questions, and I should like immediately to deal with them. The hon. Member raised the question of coke stocks, and I should like to tell him what the position is there. It is quite true that coke stocks are about 700,000 tons less now than they were at the corresponding period last year. They were almost precisely so much less at the beginning of the coal summer, that is to say, on 1st May. The reason for this I explained in some detail myself when speaking on the Adjournment some weeks ago; and, perhaps, he will forgive me if I ask the hon. Member to look at my speech on that occasion, as I do not want now to take up too much time in repeating the points of it. Briefly, the explanation is that the demand for coke has steadily increased year by year, and so has output; but in the last year we have been obliged to take certain measures which have delayed that expansion. In particular, we have used a good deal more oil in the making of gas, and we have had to use coke itself for making carburetted water gas, and that has diminished the available supplies of coke. We are very much aware of the coke difficulty, and certain steps have already been taken, which, I think, will lead to a fairly speedy restoration of the stock position.
He also asked me what the stock increase between July and November was in 1946. I think the comparable figure was an increase of about 2,500,000 to 2,750,000 tons. He mentioned 2,000,000 tons. I think the figure was a little larger. He then asked me why we do expect it to be any better this year. I think the answer to that is quite simple. We have already done considerably better this year than last year, and we have every reason to expect that we shall do better in the next few months.
The hon. and gallant Member for North Paddington (Captain Field), whom I should like to congratulate on an admirable maiden speech, referred in some 656 detail to fuel efficiency, and quoted from the report of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee. I know that other Members not fortunate enough to catch your eye, Major Milner, would have raised the point. I have not time to go through the whole of that interesting report, but I propose to take up some of the important points and deal with them. I am not going to add to what has been said on the estimate of production for the calendar year. My right hon. Friend did give full figures to the Committee, and it is for Members to draw their conclusions. Whether we shall reach the 200 million target or not I cannot say, and nor can anybody. There is a prospect of reaching it, I think I can say, but that there is cause for complacency or satisfaction on the basis of the existing figures no one would for one moment suggest. I think that the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, when they spoke of consumption, put the figure very high indeed, if they meant to refer to inland consumption. They spoke, I think, of a figure of 210 million tons. One can only say—for one has to take the recent figures—that inland consumption is not likely to attain that level. Of course, it could attain that level, no doubt, if the domestic consumer were allowed very much larger amounts. If one is thinking in terms of exports—and this relates to something the hon. Member for North Dorset (Mr. Byers) said—we should have the revival of coal exports rather sooner than some other Members have suggested.
The Report of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee deals in some detail with the matter of industrial allocations, and, as hon. Members have referred to that issue, I should like to take up a moment or two by saying something on the subject. I think the Committee knows generally what the arrangements for this summer are. Firms are receiving—or, rather, are programmed to receive, and, in the aggregate, certainly are receiving—their 1946 consumption. From this they are expected to accumulate stocks up to a three weeks' level by the winter. Extra supplies have been made available for building materials and for deconcentrated firms. I agree with the Committee that past consumption as a basis is not satisfactory for encouraging fuel efficiency. But I should also like to point out that in allocating to firms—and 657 my right hon. Friend has again given this assurance—what stocks they have by the end of the summer will not be taken into account in calculating their allocations for the winter. We are giving there definite encouragement for efficiency. There is some difficulty arising from this policy. We knew there would be, though I think we were right in doing this. The difficulty, of course, is, as I think the right hon. Gentleman suggested, that some firms were, in fact, getting very much larger stocks than others, and they got those stocks not solely as a result of greater fuel efficiency. It would be a mistake to expect, under these arrangements for the supply of coal, to say that every firm receives to the last ton exactly what it is programmed to receive. There are far too many accidents involved in this which we cannot control—literally accidents; accidents in pits from which they can derive coal; disputes may arise; there are transport difficulties, and so on. But what we do try to do is to even up deliveries as much as we possibly can.
We are now engaged in working on the plans for the winter allocations. It is far too early to go into this in detail, but I would say that the Government accept two basic principles laid down in that report—that, in so far as deliveries may not be adequate to meet all requirements absolutely in full, we have to consider priorities on the basis of national needs, and we have to take into account fuel efficiency as well. I would add only two other things in this connection. We roust try—and we are going to try—to let industrial consumers know what they may reasonably expect next winter precisely. It will not be possible to guarantee them that amount, but we can give them at any rate some guidance on it; and we must preserve some element of flexibility.
The hon. and gallant Member for Fylde (Colonel Lancaster) dealt at some length with the administration of the National Coal Board. He knows that I have not time at my disposal to reply to that in detail. I am bound to say, however, that I think it is premature to start criticisms of that kind in detail. He is perfectly entitled to criticise; and certainly we wish that there shall be opportunities of criticising the administration of the National Coal Boad. We are entirely in favour of it. But, after all, the National Coal Board has been in existence for only 658 six months; it is the largest commercial organisation in the world; it has over 700,000 people employed in it; it has a capital of £250 million; and it has taken over more than 850 undertakings, many of them small and inefficient. It is quite out of the question to expect them to have solved all the problems of organisation in a matter of six months, and, in the same time, to have secured the coal which the nation needs.
When Parliament passed the Coal Industry (Nationalisation) Act it recognised that the National Coal Board must be free to frame their own organisation. I do not think even the hon. and gallant Member for Fylde would wish us to be intervening continuously in matters of this kind. I agree with the hon. and gallant Member on one thing. It is true, I think, that when a number of undertakings are amalgamated—and this applies, may I say, whether it is done under private ownership or under State ownership—and a number of very much larger units are created than existed before, it is not easy, to start with, to find personnel who are capable of managing these very much larger organisations. That is true, and I agree that it is a problem. But it is a problem which will be solved in time, as more experience is gained.
What have we got to do? Surely, in this industry, we have to build up a new tradition of public service. We have, of course, taken over both sides; we have taken over the managerial side as well as the workers' side. We must get a willingness to forget the past; we must get a readiness to give up that feud; and we must get people willing to work together, willing to put production first—first and last—because the interests of the country demand it. We must create a tradition of public service, and it cannot be done in a matter of months.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
I am afraid that at this stage I cannot say anything on the matter of costs. It really is too early to expect us to do that. I suggest that is a subject which could be discussed more appropriately when we get the accounts of the National Coal Board, when they are presented to the House.
659 Some hon. Members have got into the habit—both inside and outside the Committee—of painting an extrordinarily gloomy picture of the coal situation. Only the other day one hon. Member spoke of coal output going down, and down, and down—a sort of picture which implied that when the Labour Government came into power everything was all right, and that, since then, nobody has done any work, and that the whole thing is falling to pieces. That is an absolute travesty of the facts. The facts are.—and I now come to something the right hon. Member for Southport (Mr. R. S. Hudson) said—that the nadir of the coal industry was not 1946 but 1945, and the output in 1946 was 6½ million tons above 1945. In fact, it began to rise immediately after the Labour Government came into office. Take whatever index you like—I do not mind; output per manshift, manpower, absenteeism—there has been a steady improvement since then. We are not satisfied with that. Of course not. How can we be satisfied, in the present state of the country? But there is no reason whatever for this general gloom and despondency. In comparison with other European nations the output per manshift in this country is far nearer the prewar figure than in any other country in Europe.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
The right hon. Member says "Nonsense," so I will give him some figures, and perhaps he will try to "take it." I will start with the lowest. As one
§ might suppose, in the Ruhr, the output per manshift overall is .55—that is to say, just over half, or 55 per cent. of the prewar level; in Holland, 56 per cent.; in Poland, 70 per cent.; in France, 73 per cent.; in Belgium, 79 per cent.; and in the United Kingdom—taking April, before the five-day week pushed up the output per manshift—89 per cent. In this respect we stand in.a better position than any other European country.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
The Saar, 81 per cent. I am afraid the hon. and gallant Member has misfired again. I repeat what I said before. Since we took office there has been a steady improvement, and we believe that things are going on the right lines. But we are not satisfied. We realise, of course, that the whole of the exchange problem is bound up with our coal position. It may well be that, in the discussions which take place, the possibility of providing more coal from this country will be raised. Well, we are not afraid, if that is the case. We believe, with confidence in the successes we have already achieved, that we can go forward to further progress and larger output of coal in the future.
§ Colonel Lancaster
I beg to move, "That Item Class VI, Vote 6, Ministry of Fuel and Power, be reduced by £5."
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 100, Noes, 248.663
|Division No. 315.]||AYES.||[6.58 p.m.|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat||Fox, Sir G||Lancaster, Col. C. G.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R||Fraser, H. C. P. (Stone)||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H|
|Baxter, A. B.||Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M.||Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)|
|Bossom, A. C||Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D.||Low, Brig. A. R. W.|
|Bower, N.||Gammans, L. D.||Lucas, Major Sir J.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||George, Maj. Rt. Hon. G. Lloyd (P'ke)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.|
|Bracken, Rt. Hon. Brendan||Glyn, Sir R.||Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Grant, Lady||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)|
|Byers, Frank||Granville, E. (Eye)||Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)|
|Channon, H.||Gridley, Sir A.||Maitland, Comdr. J. W.|
|Clarke, Col. R. S.||Grimston, R. V.||Manningham-Buller, R. E.|
|Clifton-Browne, Lt.-Col. G||Gryffydd, Prof. W. J.||Marlowe, A. A. H|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)||Marples, A. E.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V||Marshall, D. (Bodmin)|
|Davies, Clement (Montgomery)||Head, Brig. A. H.||Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C||Maude, J C|
|Dower, Lt.-Col. A. V. G. (Penrith)||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Mellor, Sir J.|
|Drayson, G. B.||Hogg, Hon. Q.||Molson, A. H. E.|
|Drewe, C.||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)|
|Dugdate, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)||Hurd, A.||Nicholson, G.|
|Duncan, Rt Hn Sir A. (City of Lond.)||Jeffreys, General Sir G.||Nutting, Anthony|
|Eden, Rt. Hon A.||Jennings, R||Orr-Ewing, I. L.|
|Fletcher, W (Bury)||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W||Osborne, C.|
|Peto, Brig. C. H. M||Sanderson, Sir F.||Walt, Sir G. S. Harvie|
|Pickthorn, K.||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W||Wheatley, Colonel M. J.|
|Ponsonby, Col. C. E.||Spearman, A. C. M.||White, J. B. (Canterbury)|
|Price-While, Lt.-Col. D||Stanley, Rt. Hon. O.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.||Stoddart-Soott, Col. M.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Raikes, H. V||Strauss, H. G (English Universities)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Ramsay, Maj. S.||Sutoliffe, H.||York, C.|
|Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)||Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F|
|Roberts, Maj. P. G. (Ecclesall)||Turton, R. H.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)||Vane, W. M. F.||Mr. Studholme and|
|Robinson, Wing-Comdr. Roland||Walker-Smith, D||Major Conant.|
|Ropner, Col. L||Ward, Hon. G. R.|
|Adams, Richard (Balham)||Fernyhough, E.||McLeavy, F,|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Field, Capt W. J.||Macpherson, T. (Romford)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Follick, M.||Mallalieu, J. P. W.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Foot, M. M||Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)|
|Anderson, A. (Motherwell)||Forman, J. C.||Manning, Mrs L. (Epping)|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Foster, W. (Wigan)||Martin, J H.|
|Attewell, H. C||Gaitskell, H. T N.||Mayhew, C. P.|
|Austin, H. Lewis||Gallacher, W.||Medland, H. M|
|Ayles, W. H.||Ganley, Mrs C. S.||Mellish, R. J.|
|Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B||Gibbins, J.||Middleton, Mrs. L.|
|Balfour A||Granville, J. E. (Consett)||Mitchison, G. R|
|Barstow, P. G.||Gordon-Walker, P. C.||Moody, A, S.|
|Barton, C.||Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)||Morgan, Dr. H. B.|
|Battley, J. R.||Grenfell, D. R.||Morley, R.|
|Bechervaise, A. E.||Grey, C. F||Morris, P. (Swansea, W)|
|Beswick, F.||Grierson, E||Mort, D. L.|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Griffiths, D. (Rather Valley)||Moyle, A.|
|Bing, G H C||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)||Nally, W.|
|Binns, J.||Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)||Naylor, T. E.|
|Blackburn, A. R.||Guest, Dr. L. Hadan||Nichol, Mrs. M. E (Bradford, N.)|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Gunter, R. J||Nicholls, H. R (Stratford)|
|Blyton, W. R.||Guy, W. H.||Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)|
|Boardman, H.||Haire, John E. (Wycombe)||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J. (Derby)|
|Bowles, F. G (Nuneaton)||Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R||O'Brien, T|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pt Exnh'ge)||Hardy, E A||Oldfield, W H.|
|Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Harrison, J||Oliver, G. H.|
|Brook, D. (Halifax)||Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Orbach, M.|
|Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Henderson, A (Kingswinford)||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Brown, T J. (Ince)||Herbison, Miss M||Parkin, B. T.|
|Bruce, Maj D. W. T||Hobson, C. R.||Paton, J. (Norwich)|
|Buchanan, G.||Holman, P||Pearson, A.|
|Burden, T. W||Holmes, H. E. (Hermsworth)||Peart, T. F.|
|Burke, W. A.||House, G||Popplewell, E.|
|Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Hoy, J.||Porter E. (Warrington)|
|Callaghan, James||Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)||Porter, G. (Leeds)|
|Carmichael, James||Hughes, H. D. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Price, M. Philips|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A||Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)||Pritt, D. N.|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)||Pryde, D. J.|
|Cobb, F. A.||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Randall, H. E|
|Cocks, F. S||Janner, B.||Ranger, J|
|Collick, P||Jeger, G. (Winchester)||Rankin, J|
|Colman, Miss G. M.||Jeger, Dr S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E)||Rees-Williams, D. R.|
|Comyns, Dr L.||Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)||Reeves, J.|
|Corbet, Mrs F. K. (Camb'well, N. W.)||Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)||Reid, T. (Swindon)|
|Crawley, A||Keenan, W.||Richards, R.|
|Cripps, Rt. Hon. Sir S.||Kenyon, C.||Ridealgh, Mrs. M.|
|Daggar, G.||Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E||Rogers, G. H. R.|
|Daines, P.||Kirby, B. V||Royle, C.|
|Davies, Edward (Burslem)||Lavers, S.||Sargood, R.|
|Davies, Hadyn (St Pancras, S. W.)||Lawson, Rt. Hon. J. J.||Scollan, T.|
|Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Lee, F. (Hulme)||Shackleton, E. A. A.|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Lee, Miss J (Cannock)||Sharp, Granville|
|Deer, G.||Leonard, W||Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Leslie, J. R.||Shawcross, Rt. Hn Sir H (St Helens)|
|Diamond, J.||Levy, B W.||Shinwell, Rt. Hon E|
|Dobbie, W||Lewis, A. W, J. (Upton)||Shurmer, P.|
|Dodds, N. N||Lindgren, G. S||Silverman, J (Erdington)|
|Driberg, T. E. N,||Lipson, D. L||Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)|
|Dugdale, J (W. Bromwich)||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M||Simmons, C. J.|
|Dumpleton, C. W.||Logan, D. G||Skeffington-Lodge, T. C|
|Dye, S.||Longden, F||Skinnard, F. W.|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J C||McAdam, W.||Smith, C. (Colchester)|
|Edelman, M.||McAllister, G.||Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)|
|Edwards, John (Blackburn)||McEntee, V. La T.||Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)|
|Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)||McGhee, H. G.||Snow, Capt. J. W.|
|Evans, E. (Lowestoft)||McKay, J (Wallsend)||Soskice, Maj. Sir F.|
|Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.W)||Sparks, J. A|
|Ewart, R.||McKinlay, A. S.||Stamford, W.|
|Fairhurst, F.||Maclean, N. (Govan)||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N)||Ungoed-Thomas. L||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Sylvester, G. O.||Viant, S. P.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T (Don Valley)|
|Symonds, A. L.||Walkden, E.||Williams, W R. (Heston)|
|Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)||Wallace, G. D. (Chisleburst.)||Williamson, T.|
|Taylor, R J. (Morpeth)||Watkins, T. E.||Wilmot, Rt. Hon. J|
|Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)||Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)||Wise, Major F. J|
|Thomas, D E. (Aberdare)||Weitzman, D.||Woodburn, A.|
|Thomas, Ivor (Keighley)||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)||Vates, V. F. A|
|Thomas, I. O (Wrekin)||White, H (Derbyshire, Nt)||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Thorneyoroft, Harry (Clayton)||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W||Younger, Hon. Kenneth|
|Thurtle, Ernest||Wigg, Col. G E||Zilliacus, K|
|Timmons, J.||Wilkes, L|
|Titterington, M F.||Wilkins, W. A.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Tolley, L.||Willey, F. T (Sunderland)||Mr. Joseph Henderson and|
|Tomlinson. Rt. Hon G.||Williams, D. J. (Neath)||Mr. Hannan.|
§ It being after Seven o'Clock, the Chairman left the Chair, further Proceeding standing postponed until after the Proceedings on the Motion for the Adjournment of the House standing over under Standing Order No. 8.
§ Mr. SPEAKER resumed the Chair.