§ Sir J. Mellor
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether he has now completed his inquiries with regard to the damage done to railway wagons in the course of unloading at the Solihull reserve coal dump; whether he is satisfied that all proper precautions were taken; and by whom has the cost of repairs been defrayed?
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
I am now assured that normal precautions were taken in connection with the unloading of this coal. The cost of repairs to the wagons damaged during the unloading is a liability of the contractors concerned, to whom accounts covering such cost have been rendered by the railway companies.
§ Sir J. Mellor
asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he has considered the terms of the resolution passed by the Solihull Urban District Council on 20th October, with regard to the reserve coal dump at Solihull; and when he expects to be in a position to make a statement?
Major Lloyd George
The answer to the first part of the Question is Yes, Sir. In answer to my hon. Friend's supplementary Questions on 29th September, I informed him that all possible merchants in the Solihull district were approached. I now find that this was not correct. I am, however, satisfied that all likely merchants were approached. My hon. Friend will appreciate that the nature of the work involved required a substantial organisation on a larger scale than that normally at the disposal of the average coal merchant. My hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport has already dealt fully with the question of the alleged damage to wagons as a result of the method employed for unloading and stacking the coal, and I am satisfied that this method has not resulted in any abnormal breakage of coal. Coal for stocking on Government account in Solihull was available only for a limited period and in limited quantities. To take the fullest possible advantage of the opportunity all the arrangements had to be made at short notice, and but for the arrangements which were made, it is quite clear to me that the coal which is now in stock as an emergency reserve in Solihull would not to-day have been in stock.