HC Deb 05 December 1950 vol 482 cc205-6
Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd

(By Private Notice) asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he has any statement to make about the resignation of Sir Eric Young from the National Coal Board?

The Minister of Fuel and Power (Mr. Philip Noel-Baker)

Yes, Sir. Sir Eric Young expressed the wish that our conversation should be regarded as confidential, and I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will think it right that I should respect his wish.

Mr. Lloyd

Am I right in thinking that following the resignation of Sir Charles Reid and now the resignation of Sir Eric Young, there is at present no mining engineer as a member of the National Coal Board?

Mr. Noel-Baker

That is true at this moment. Of course, it is desirable, in principle, that there should be a mining engineer on the National Coal Board. The right hon. Gentleman will remember that the National Coal Board is not now functional in character, and that it has at its disposal nearly all the able mining engineers in the country.

Mr. Keeling

Will the Minister explain the difference between it being desirable that there should be a mining engineer and it being desirable "in principle" that there should be a mining engineer?

Mr. Noel-Baker

It means that there certainly will be a mining engineer in due course; but I do not know how soon.

Colonel Ropner

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think, in spite of any desire on the part of a public servant for conversations to remain confidential, that he should give considerably more information to the House in regard to the reasons for this resignation?

Mr. Noel-Baker

The hon. and gallant Member will recognise how my hands are tied. But I will say this—I think I can say it without a breach of confidence, but quite categorically—that his reasons had nothing to do with a difference of opinion about the present policy or the present organisation of the National Coal Board.

Mr. Churchill

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell the miners how pleased we all were and how much we thank them for working an extra Saturday shift?

Mr. Noel-Baker

I am very much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman. I hope that they will do even better next week.

Colonel Crosthwaite-Eyre

As the Minister has given two reasons for which Sir Eric Young did not resign, and as the Press has stated that he did not resign because of ill-health or the present crisis in coal production, will he ask, for the benefit of everyone, that Sir Eric Young should authorise him to give the real reasons, which would do much to allay present concern?

Mr. Noel-Baker

That is really for Sir Eric Young. I have nothing to add to my statement.