HC Deb 05 February 1973 vol 850 cc22-4
23. Mr. Hardy

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what is the current output per manshift obtained in the coal mining industry in the last four-week period for which figures are available; and what it was during the same period, two, four and six years earlier.

The Minister for Industrial Development (Mr. Christopher Chataway)

With permission, I will circulate the figures in the OFFICIAL REPORT. Because of the varying incidence of the Christmas and New Year holidays care should be exercised in interpreting these statistics.

Mr. Hardy

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that the figures will show that the view recently expressed that there is little scope for increased productivity is ill founded? Does he agree too that the recent commendable and sizeable increases in productivity justify the demand that there should be more coal-fired generation of electricity?

Mr. Chataway

I agree with the hon. Gentleman that the recent increases in productivity have been encouraging, and it is hoped that the improvement can be maintained.

Mr. Ellis

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that the recent improvements in productivity are even greater than appear at first sight since they do not take account of collieries which have closed or the fact that the performance figures for the last six to eight years include collieries which themselves had particularly low levels of productivity?

Mr. Chataway

That is a factor which could cut both ways, depending on the time scale over which one is looking at the increases in productivity, but it is right to say that the recent improvements in productivity are in line with increases in productivity over recent years and are encouraging.

Mr. Edward Taylor

Can my hon. Friend indicate to those who are anxious to know the full picture how much of the increase is due to the closure of uneconomic mines where it was not possible to get high output per manshift and how much is due to increased mechanisation? Is it possible to give a clear picture of how much of this improvement is due to increased co-operation and better methods or, on the other hand, to the closure of uneconomic mines?

Mr. Chataway

I cannot without notice give figures which would purport to distribute improvement between those factors.

Mr. Eadie

Surely the right hon. Gentleman should tell the House that despite the fact that there have been massive closures, either for economic reasons or because coal had run down, there has been a substantial improvement in production and that credit is due to the miners because they have managed to achieve this.

Mr. Chataway

Indeed. My hon. Friend the Minister for Industry has made this point on a number of occasions and said that the recent increases in productivity are very welcome.

Following are the figures:

Average output per manshift (cwt.)
4 weeks ending 21st January 1967 36.90
4 weeks ending 18th January 1969 42.97
4 weeks ending 16th January 1971 43.10
4 weeks ending 20th January 1973 47.18

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