HC Deb 12 May 1947 vol 437 c1064
16. Mr. Skeffington-Lodge

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement in respect of the coal production position in the British zone of Germany.

Mr. McNeil

The upward trend in the production of hard coal was arrested towards the end of March, and since then output has fallen from 237,000 to 221,000 tons a day. The average manshift output has dropped from 0.96 to 0.91 tons, and there has been a noticeable increase in absenteeism.

Mr. Skeffington-Lodge

Can my right hon. Friend say whether he considers that this is due to inadequate rations for the miners in Germany?

Mr. McNeil

No one can be certain about such a complex subject, but I should imagine that the drop in available food has been a feature. I should point out to my hon. Friend, of course, that the drop, whilst most deplorable, has not been as great as the comparable drop last year.

Mr. Bramall

Will the Minister bear in mind that the important matter here is not only the question of rations for the miners themselves but that of the rations available to their families?

Mr. William Shepherd

Can the Minister reconcile this drop in production with the agreement to export more coal, thus putting a greater burden still upon the British taxpayer?

Mr. Lipson

Will the right hon. Gentleman say what steps are being taken to try to bring about an increase in production once again?

Mr. McNeil

The primary steps, of course, are related to food. There is a Question upon that subject on the Order Paper.