HC Deb 13 November 1950 vol 480 cc1358-9
18. Mr. Colegate

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what steps he is taking in view of the anticipated increase in demand for coal to recruit additional labour for the coal mines.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

It is of urgent importance that the present decline in manpower in the mines should be checked and that the number of miners should, if possible, also be increased. The National Coal Board have this year recruited more newcomers to the industry than they did a year ago. But, in conditions of full employment, more men have also left the mines for other work, and since July some thousands of miners have joined the Armed Forces of the Crown.

The Coal Board and the Government view with particular concern the fall in the manpower at the face. They are now urgently considering what steps can be taken to check the present wastage, to induce more ex-miners to return to the pits, and to improve general recruitment. I am also asking the National Union of Mineworkers to consider how we can most effectively bring home to every miner the nation's urgent need for more coal during the corning winter months.

Mr. Colegate

Has the Minister considered the possibility of recruiting labour, which can be done on terms by agreement with the National Union of Mineworkers, which would protect the home worker while securing, at any rate for a period of years, labour which would be only too glad to come and help us in this task?

Mr. Noel-Baker

That matter is under consideration by the Coal Board and the National Union of Mineworkers.

Mr. Fernyhough

In view of the acute manpower situation in the coal mines, will my right hon. Friend consult with the Minister of Defence to make sure that no further coal face or underground workers are called to the Forces?

Mr. Noel-Baker

I will consider what my hon. Friend says.

Mr. Henderson Stewart

Have the Coal Board conducted a scientific inquiry into the reasons why men are leaving the pits?

Mr. Noel-Baker

Yes, Sir. They are doing so.