§ Mr. LOOKER
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has now completed his arrangements with the railway companies for the freight relief to be given in respect of export coal under the Government's rating proposals; and the estimated freight reduction per ton?1114W
§ Colonel ASHLEY
I have been asked to reply to this question, which I assume to relate to the special arrangement for anticipating freight relief as from 1st December next. A scheme has been prepared in consultation with the principal railway companies and will be available in the Vote Office to-morrow. I should prefer not to anticipate the details of the scheme, or any explanation which I may have to give when the necessary estimate is presented.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what advantage, if any, will be obtained by colliery companies under the Rating and Valuation Apportionment Act, i.e., reduction in freightage proposals, where only house coal and gas coal are produced for internal use?
§ Colonel ASHLEY
I have been asked to reply. Under the proposed scheme of railway freight rebates the freight relief will not extend to house or gas coal consumed in this country, but, in accordance with the request and advice of the mining industry, will be concentrated upon coal for export and foreign bunkers and for iron and steel works. Collieries producing exclusively house and gas coal for internal consumption will, like other collieries, obtain the advantage of the general de-rating proposals embodied in the Local Government Bill.
§ Mr. SHINWELL
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the estimated percentage reduction in the cost of production of coal produced in Scotland, each county stated separately, due to the de-rating proposals?
§ Commodore KING
I have been asked to reply. On the basis of the last quarter for which information is available, the estimated reduction in the cost of production of coal commercially disposable in Scotland due to the de-rating of the collieries themselves would be just under 1½d. a ton or about 1 per cent. It is not possible to give figures for each of the mining counties separately.
§ Sir A. HOLBROOK
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to the figures furnished by the River Wear Commissioners showing that in the 10 months ending 31st October last 2,700,000 tons of coal exported from the Wear were con- 1115W veyed over private mineral railways, whilst 1,845,000 tons were conveyed over public railways; and whether, in the circumstances, he will reconsider the decision to exclude the private mineral railways from freight transport relief?
§ Commodore KING
I heard the figures mentioned in the question quoted by the hon. Member for Sunderland (Sir W. Raine) a few days ago, and while I am not able to check them, I have no reason to think they are incorrect. If, however, the hon. Member will take figures for the whole of the North-East Coast and confine his calculations to the coal selected to receive railway freight relief only, he will find the proportions quite different. In reply to the last part of the question, I cannot add anything to the reply which was given by my right hon. Friend on 8th November to the hon. Member for Spennymoor Division (Mr. Batey)