§ Mr. HANNON
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will give fuller information than that contained in the Estimate of Unclassified Services, 1922–23, in relation to the loss of £25,350,000, which is stated to be irrecoverable advances to the coal-mining industry during the four years ended 31st Marsh, 1923; and whether the object of these advances was to enable wages to be paid which otherwise could not be borne by the industry worked upon an economic basis?
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
I have been asked to reply. I shall be glad to give fuller information to my hon. Friend if he will particularise the points on which he requires it; on the position generally, I cannot within the compass of an answer to a question say more than is said in the note to the Estimates. Except, possibly, in respect of the liability to pay Sankey wage between the 1st January, 1919, and the 31st March, 1919, imposed on the exchequer by Section 5 of the Coal Mines (Emergency) Act, 1920, the answer to the last part of the question is in the negative. The object of making advances from the Exchequer under Section 7 (5) of that Act was to place in funds the pool out of which deficiencies in guaranteed profits were made up while the money payable into it from profits in excess of standards was being collected. Up to the end of 1920 the coal levy due to the pool exceeded the coal award payable out of it, but the acute depression of the succeeding three months not only wiped out this balance but caused a heavy deficit.