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Fuel And Power

Volume 389: debated on Tuesday 4 May 1943

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Coalmine Accidents And Industrial Diseases


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he can give particulars of the number and rate of accidents, and notifiable industrial diseases, in the first quarter of this year; whether the rate is increasing; and the factors responsible for such increase?

In the period 1st January to 3rd April, 1943, the number of persons who were killed or seriously injured by accidents at mines under the Coal Mines Act was 869, a rate per 1,000 persons employed of 1.21. The rate is not increasing. No corresponding figures for industrial diseases are available.

Has my right hon. and gallant Friend's attention been called to the increasing evidence that middle-aged and elderly miners are beginning to show signs of tiredness and fatigue, which will increase the accident rate? Will he consider what steps can be taken, particularly with regard to the supply of more adequate food, to abate this tendency?

I am watching the position very carefully. As I pointed out, the rate is not increasing. In fact, the comparable figure for the previous quarter was slightly greater than that for the last one.

In view of the great benefit being derived from the canteens, will my right hon. and gallant Friend take steps to see that the erection of further buildings is not delayed on account of the shortage of material and labour?

I will do everything I possibly can—and I have done—to expedite the construction of these canteens. They are going on at a fairly satisfactory rate, although I would be happier to see miners making more use of some of them.

Is my right hon. and gallant Friend aware of the increasing accident rate in Durham County? Are the causes being looked into?

I believe there was an accident in Durham County at the beginning of last year. I have not the figures for any particular area here, but, taking the country as a whole, there was a slight decrease as compared with the same period.

Production And Consumption


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power in what proportions the closing of the gap between production and consumption is due to the producers' effort and the economies in consumption?

The answer is: roughly in the proportions of one-third production and two-thirds consumption.

Labour Research Department Pamphlet


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he is aware that a document entitled "Coal in 1943," published by the Labour Research Department, has been circulated by his Midland Regional Controller; and whether this action has his approval?

Yes, Sir. I am aware of this action, which was taken without my knowledge or approval.

Would the right hon. and gallant Gentleman agree that it is highly improper for any member of his Department to circulate party political pamphlets, whether they come from the Right or the Left, and in view of the fact that this is not the first grave indiscretion of this officer, would he consider whether he could be more usefully employed elsewhere?

No, Sir, I have nothing to add to my answer. I said it was done without my knowledge or approval.

In order to remove any misunderstanding, does the Minister appreciate that this document was not published by the Labour Party?

Petrol Allowance, Birmingham Region


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power how many applications for petrol allowances the Regional Petroleum Officer, Birmingham, has rejected after having required the applicants to license and insure their vehicles as a condition precedent to any consideration of such applications?

Such cases are not separately recorded, but I am told that they could be counted on the fingers of one hand.

What objection is there to telling applicants whether they will be able to get a petrol allowance before they license their vehicles?

I think a good indication is given by the Petrol Office if there is a prima facie case for the applicant getting an allowance, but as these cases do not exceed half-a-dozen I do not think the hon. Gentleman need worry very much.

Indians, South Africa (Status)


asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether he will publish in a White Paper, or otherwise, full details of all correspondence and negotiations between the British Government and the Government of South Africa, both before and since the passing of the Asiatic (Restriction of Indians) Act by the South African Parliament?

There has been no correspondence or negotiations of the kind suggested. The matter is one which, in accordance with the recognised principles of inter-Imperial relations, has been dealt with directly between the Government of India through its High Commissioner in South Africa and the Union Government.

Has any consultation or advice been sought from His Majesty's Government?