§ 22. Mr. Erroll
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies the estimated coal reserves of Nigeria; and whether he has considered the possibility of largely increasing production and exports.
Mr. Creech Jones
The coal resources in Nigeria are thought to be substantial but no real estimate of their extent has yet been made or can be made until the geological survey of the probable areas has been completed. This is in hand but I fear will take some time yet to carry through. Both the Governor and myself are alive to the importance and prospects of this industry but at the moment increased production and export from the existing coalfield depend largely on the capacity of the railway and port to handle larger quantities and this aspect of the matter is receiving attention. Orders have already been placed for additional locomotives and equipment and delivery should begin very soon.
§ Mr. Erroll
Could the Minister say whether he will propose, when additional equipment is received, a reduction in the excessively high freight rates charged by the Government-owned railway?
§ Dr. Segal
Is the Minister aware that there is an actual surplus of labour in these coalfields, that workers pay a premium to the widows of deceased miners in order to secure their work at the mine, and will he take additional steps to stimulate increased production of coal and encourage its export to areas further afield than merely West Africa?
§ Squadron-Leader Donner
Has the right hon. Gentleman considered importing coal from Nigeria into this country?
Mr. Creech Jones
The purpose of the inquiry was to meet shortages and the Governor has a sense of urgency in regard to it.