HC Deb 08 February 1960 vol 617 cc9-10
10. Lieut.-Colonel Bromley-Davenport

asked the Minister of Power if he will state the percentage increase in the mechanisation of the coal mines since nationalisation, and the percentage increase in production per miner per underground shift for the same period, on the basis of figures supplied to him for compiling his Department's statistical digest.

Mr. Wood

There is no single index of mechanisation, nor is a proportionate relationship to be expected between the increases in particular forms of mechanisation and the increase in output per manshift. Between 1947 and 1958 the percentage of coal mechanically cut increased by 14, that mechanically conveyed by 19, that mechanically cleaned by 15 and that power-loaded by 24. Output per manshift underground increased by 12 per cent.

Lieut. - Colonel Bromley - Davenport

After so much money has been spent on mechanisation, is my right hon. Friend satisfied with this increase in productivity. Does he think the taxpayer has had a really good return for his money?

Mr. Wood

As I have pointed out, it is quite impossible—I think it would be wrong—to expect an exactly proportionate increase in productivty, but I notice that the output per manshift has increased from 1.44 to 1.69 tons since nationalisation, and I think that is very satisfactory.

Mr. Lee

Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that, as a result of mechanisation and the way in which the miners have worked within the mechanised structure, we now produce the cheapest coal in Western Europe, that from that angle mechanisation is most beneficial, and that in every way the capital invested in the mechanisation of the coal mines represents a very good investment for the nation?

Mr. Wood

I do not think the hon. Gentleman would want to suggest that he would not like to see further improvements in output per manshift, and I hope they will take place.

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