HC Deb 07 March 1923 vol 161 cc521-2W

asked the Secretary for Mines (1) what part of the enhanced selling price of export coal and coke is being retained at present by coal exporters.: what proportion is going respectively to miners in increased wages and to colliery owners in enhanced profits;

(2) if he is aware that under the existing arrangements the miners are entitled to 82½ per cent. of the increased profits made on the sales of coal; that owing to the increased demand, and therefore higher selling price of coal to Germany and other places, a few blast furnaces in England have been damped down and a. number of steel works have been in danger of closing down from lack of fuel, and that some coal owners have met the situation by offering to supply big industrial areas at from 5s. to 10s. per ton less than foreigners are offering to pay; and is the Government prepared to take action to see that the miners get their full 82½ per cent. advance from those who supply coal at an enhanced price?

Lieut.-Colonel LANE-FOX:

I have no information as to exporters' profits or losses on their dealing in coal and coke. Nor is it possible to say in what proportions any consequent increase in the proceeds of the coal-mining industry will eventually benefit wages and profits respectively. Broadly speaking, the present wages agreement contemplates a ratio of about 85 for wages to about 15 for profits. But it also provides for the payment of minimum rates of wages, and these rates are at present in operation in some districts. As regards Question No. 131, I am aware that higher prices may be obtained by some collieries than by others, but, as the hon. and gallant Member is doubtless aware, the level of wages in every colliery is determined under the agreement by reference to the financial results of the district as a whole and not of that particular colliery.