HC Deb 28 November 1955 vol 546 cc1917-8
23. Mr. Wade

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power the functions of the Coal Committee set up by the Council of the Association of the European Coal and Steel Community.

Mr. Joynson-Hicks

The Coal Committee has been set up to examine matters of common interest on coal coming within the terms of the Agreement. At the meeting of the Council of Association held on 17th November it was decided that the committee should review the coal situation in the widest terms, including the present coal supply difficulties both in the Community and the United Kingdom.

Mr. Wade

Will this Committee be entitled to consider manpower as well as materials? In view of the fact, for example, that Italy needs British coal and is suffering from unemployment and has men who are willing to come to work in our mines, whereas Britain needs miners and would benefit from increased exports of coal, would the Committee be entitled to consider that subject with a view to reaching an agreement which might be of benefit to both countries?

Mr. Joynson-Hicks

What the hon. Gentleman suggests would certainly fall within the review of coal in its widest terms. When the Coal Committee has made its review it makes what recommendations it thinks fit to the Council of the Association of the European Coal and Steel Community.

Mr. Robens

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman would not like to give a wrong impression by his answer to that supplementary question. Would he not agree that the subject of Italian miners in British mines is one to be negotiated between the National Union of Mineworkers and the Coal Board?

Mr. Joynson-Hicks

I appreciate the right hon. Member's question. If I missed the point of the supplementary question put to me by the hon. Member for Huddersfield, West (Mr. Wade), I apologise. I quite agree that the question of employment is entirely a matter for the Coal Board, and that it is its custom to negotiate and review it with the National Union of Mineworkers. The hon. Member's supplementary question was on the availability of manpower.

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