asked the President of the Board of Trade if, and when, he proposes to reduce the price of coal: what were the total profits made last year by the Government on their transactions in coal; and if he can hold out any hope of the speedy abandonment of the policy of control?
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
A reduction in the price of coal is not in immediate contemplation but the matter is not escaping the attention of the Government. The Government are not directly concerned in the buying and selling of coal. The distribution of the profits of the coal mining industry as between the owners and State will depend upon the Coal Mines (Emergency) Bill, the second reading of which will be taken to-morrow. The total profits of the industry for 1919 cannot yet be ascertained, but an estimate for the current financial year is made by the independent accountants, Messrs. Alfred Tongue and Company in the third Schedule to their Report. An account of receipts and payments by the Board of Trade and the Commissioners of Inland Revenue respectively under the Coal Mines Control Agreement (Confirmation) Act, 1918, for the period 1st April, 1917, to 31st March, 1919, was printed in the White Paper issued on Saturday. The abandonment of the policy of control depends on many factors, and it cannot yet be foreshadowed when events will540W enable control to be terminated without serious consequences to the community.