HC Deb 09 April 1951 vol 486 cc624-5
3. Mr. Thomas Reid

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what percentage of coal was cleaned of dirt in 1947; and what is the position now.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

In 1947, the percentage of coal cleaned either by mechanical means or by hand was about 78 per cent.; in 1950 it was 82 per cent.

Mr. Reid

Has the amount of dirt taken from coal since nationalisation been much greater than before nationalisation, and, when the pits were taken over, was there adequate cleansing machinery in the old pits?

Mr. Noel-Baker

Before nationalisation the cutting machinery had been increased much more rapidly than the cleansing machinery, and there is a backlog of mechanical cleaning plant to make up.

Mr. R. S. Hudson

Would the right hon. Gentleman suggest to his hon. Friend the Member for Swindon (Mr. T. Reid) that he asks the housewives of Swindon whether they agree that their coal is cleaner?

Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd

Has the right hon. Gentleman considered the passage in the Gas Council's Report which says that the low quality and dirtiness of the coal resulted in an extra million tons' consumption?

Mr. Noel-Baker

If the right hon. Gentleman had looked at the Order Paper he would have seen that there is a Question down about that.

Mr. Godfrey Nicholson

Would the right hon. Gentleman tell the House how much of the 82 per cent. is mechanically cleaned?

Mr. Noel-Baker

About 52 per cent.

Mr. Nicholson

How does that compare with the 1947 figure?

Mr. Noel-Baker

It was then 47 per cent.

Mr. T. Reid

Would my right hon. Friend answer the last part of my Question? Was the machinery for cleansing the coal adequate in the pits before nationalisation?

Mr. Noel-Baker

No. I have said it was not adequate because the cutting machinery had been increased much more rapidly than the cleansing machinery.