HC Deb 07 November 1939 vol 353 cc73-5W
Mr. White

asked the Secretary for Mines why it is necessary to ration coal and coke?

Mr. Lloyd

I would refer the hon. Member to the statement I made during the Debate on the Adjournment on 10th October, and to the reply I gave on 24th October to the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson).

Mr. Tomlinson

asked the Secretary for Mines whether he is aware that coal stocks are rising at the railway sidings in Farnworth and Bolton, and dealers are unable to release waggons for which railway companies are now making urgent requests; and will he, therefore, relax the household rationing in these areas in order that the difficulties may be overcome?

Mr. C. Brown

asked the Secretary for Mines whether he is aware that unemployment is being caused in some coal mines in Nottinghamshire by the coal rationing scheme; and whether he is prepared to modify, or suspend, the scheme in respect of that area till a real need for rationing arises?

Mr. Tinker

asked the Secretary for Mines whether, in view of the increased output of coal from the mines, he will consider raising the rationing of house-fire coal from 75 per cent. to 100 per cent. and thus relieve the anxiety prevailing on this matter?

Mr. Jenkins

asked the Secretary for Mines whether he now proposes to make any modification in the coal rationing scheme, having regard to the continuance of short-time working at many collieries?

Mr. T. Smith

asked the Secretary for Mines whether he is aware that colliery companies in West Yorks producing good quality house coal are concerned at the rationing of household coal and are of opinion that this Order will have a detrimental effect upon this class of trade in the future; and whether he is in a position to say whether a suspension of the Order is contemplated in the near future?

Mr. Lloyd

The survey of stocks and consumption which I referred to in the answer I gave on 31st October to my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing (Sir F. Sanderson) is nearly completed and I hope to be in a position to make a statement very shortly.

Mr. J. Griffiths

asked the Secretary for Mines how many coal mines have been re-opened since the commencement of the war and how many unemployed miners have been re-absorbed into the industry; and whether he can give any indication as to when the industry will be producing the extra 7,000,000 tons saved by rationing?

Mr. Lloyd

Since the outbreak of war 26 pits, each employing 10 or more persons on the 28th October and in the aggregate 4,142 persons, have been opened or re-opened.

As regards the last part of the question, I have, as I informed the House in the course of the Debate on the 10th October, asked the Mining Association and the Mineworkers' Federation jointly to consider how best to secure an increase in production, but I am unable to say when an increase of seven million tons per annum will be secured.

Mr. Riley

asked the Secretary for Mines whether coal-slack which, in combination with bitumen, is used for making briquettes, comes under the Coal Fuel Rationing Order; and whether he will consider the exemption of coal-slack from the provisions of the Fuel Order?

Mr. Lloyd

Coal-slack is mainly supplied to industrial premises, the majority of which are not subject to rationing. I am not prepared to exempt any particular solid fuel from the operation of the Order.

Mr. Dunn

asked the Secretary for Mines what consultations took place to ascertain public opinion prior to introducing the coal rationing scheme, including all parties in the coal trade; if he has tested the same opinion since the scheme has been in force and with what results; and will he consider modifying or annulling the Order?

Mr. Lloyd

The arrangements for rationing coal, gas and electricity were prepared in close consultation with representatives of the interests affected, including the Coal Merchants' Federation, the co-operative societies, the National Gas Council and the Electricity Commission. This contact has since been maintained. With regard to the last part of the question I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to-day to my hon. Friend the Member for Worcester, Evesham (Mr. De la Bere).

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