HC Deb 20 April 1953 vol 514 cc624-5
19. Mr. Nabarro

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what consultations have taken place between his Department and the National Coal Board regarding the sinking of a new pit at Kinneil, Alloa, West Lothian.

Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd

After consultation, this work was authorised under Defence Regulation 56A in March, 1951.

Mr. Nabarro

Is my right hon. Friend aware that at least three British engineering firms tendered competitive prices and only slightly longer delivery dates for these large quantities of mining equipment, and in those circumstances can my right hon. Friend say why the policy of "Buy British" was not supported by the Coal Board as an example to British industry generally?

Mr. Lloyd

That is a different question from the one on the paper, but it is most definitely one for the commercial judgment of the National Coal Board.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the finest equipment is made in Scotland, by Scottish engineers, and is not that a good reason for a little more consideration being given to them, particularly in view of the fact that they are so busily engaged on defence work and that probably a little consultation would have resulted in a contract being arranged with the profits going to Scotland and not to our greatest rivals?

Mr. J. Taylor

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the delay would have been greater in this case, and that, although we would have preferred to use native machinery, the economic disadvantage of the long wait would have been more expensive to the nation? Secondly, would the Minister explain to us in which part of West Lothian Alloa is?

Mr. Lloyd

I would not dare to try to answer the second part of that question. As to the first, I want to make it quite clear that it is most important, when we are considering these matters of the coal industry, that there should be a proper distinction between the functions of the Government and those of the National Coal Board. This is a matter for the Board, and it is only fair to point out that it is not easy to criticise them for this decision and then criticise them for the slowness of their capital investment.

Mr. Shinwell

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that some of his hon. Friends are asking him and the National Coal Board to adopt a policy which they complain about when it is adopted in the United States?

Mr. Nabarro

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the right hon. Gentleman opposite and his hon. Friends are always groaning to high heaven about unemployment in the engineering industry? Why will they not study the implications of full employment?

Mr. Shinwell

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that when it comes to a matter of groaning nobody is more capable of that than the hon. Gentleman for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro)?

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