HC Deb 06 July 1959 vol 608 cc864-5
4. Mr. Palmer

asked the Paymaster-General what action he has taken to put into effect the several recommendations of the Select Committee on Nationalised Industries in relation to the National Coal Board.

Mr. Maudling

Information about the action taken on the recommendations of the Report is given in Chapter VI of the Report of the National Coal Board for 1958.

Mr. Palmer

Is it not a fact that if the recommendations of the Select Committee, particularly in the matter of commercial independence for the Coal Board, were fully carried into effect, it would tremendously help the Board in the present situation? Should not the Government, therefore, pay greater attention than hitherto to the Report of the Select Committee, particularly as it was a unanimously agreed all-party Report?

Mr. Maudling

No, Sir, I cannot accept that. If the hon. Gentleman has in mind, as I think he has, the gentleman's agreement on the present policy for coal prices, the Committee did not object to that policy. It wanted to make it stiffer, statutory rather than informal.

Mr. Ernest Davies

What action are the Government taking in respect of the gentleman's agreement? Are they acting on the Report or are they not?

Mr. Maudling

I have made it clear in Answers on more than one occasion that we cannot accept that recommendation. We think that the present gentleman's agreement is, on balance, better for all concerned.