HC Deb 26 November 1951 vol 494 cc862-3
34. Mr. E. Fernyhough

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power by what amount he expects the production of deep mined coal in 1951 to exceed that of 1945.

Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd

By about 36 million tons.

Mr. Fernyhough

Would the right hon. Gentleman agree that that speaks volumes for the success of the nationalisation of the mines, and would he not agree that it is a great credit to the miners? Will he see that those figures are publicised in Tory papers in every constituency in this country?

Mr. Lloyd

I only wish that the total increase had been much greater. When we congratulate ourselves as a country upon that, we must also remember that even at the present figure it is still 30 million tons below what it was in 1937.

39. Mr. George Jeger

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power the estimated output of opencast coal for the year ending December, 1951; and the targets for 1952 and 1953.

Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd

Production of opencast coal this year will be about 11 million tons. As regards 1952 and 1953, the policy of the Government is to win as much opencast coal as is practicable, having regard to the availability of sites and plant.

Mr. Jeger

Are we to understand from the Minister that there will be no alteration whatever in the policy in regard to opencast coal production laid down by the previous Government?

Mr. Lloyd

In the present situation we must have as much opencast coal as possible, but we shall pay careful regard to amenity.

Mr. Archer Baldwin

In getting opencast coal, do we not very often destroy good agricultural land in order to send that coal abroad and bring back products which we can grow ourselves?

Mr. Thomas Price

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I have recently spoken to farmers in my constituency whose land was turned up for opencast coal, and that they have informed me that the land is in better shape now than it was before?

Major W. J. Anstruther-Gray

Can we have an assurance from my right hon. Friend that he will take great care not to encroach unduly on good agricultural land?

Mr. Lloyd

Yes, Sir, but I think the House appreciates the acute crisis in coal production. We never do anything of this kind without close consultation with the Ministry of Agriculture.