HC Deb 13 March 1947 vol 434 cc1473-4
41. Mr. Solley

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power why, on 25th February, when the matter was reported by the hon. Member for Thurrock, Messrs. Harrison's, of Purfleet, had left idle on railway sidings in or near Thurrock area 218 wagons full of coal, the greater part of which had been on the sidings for a month or weeks; and how long after the matter had been reported did it take to clear these wagons.

Mr. Shinwell

I am informed that on the day in question the number of wagons on hand at Harrison's, Purfleet, and held on the railway company's sidings for Harrison's was not more than 166. They contained, in the main, washed coal which had frozen in the trucks. Similar difficulties were encountered at other tipping stations and depots during the past six or seven weeks, and although special measures were adopted, considerable delay in clearance of such wagons was, unfortunately, unavoidable. I cannot say when these particular wagons were cleared since there was some intake of new wagons after 25th February, but for over a week the number of wagons left over at the close of day has been equivalent to only two days' clearances.

Mr. Solley

Has my right hon. Friend assured himself that this delay was not due in part to the attitude of Messrs. Harrison in refusing to take delivery because of certain profit arrangements?

Mr. Shinwell

I have no information on that head. I should hesitate to believe that an industrial undertaking would put profit before the national interest.