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Volume 389: debated on Tuesday 11 May 1943

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asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what has been the total output of the coal mines in the months June, 1942, to April, 1943, inclusive, and how this compares with the output in the months June, 1941, to April, 1942?

The production of saleable coal from the mines of this country, excluding the output of opencast workings, was 187,867,800 tons in the period June, 1942, to April, 1943, and 190,336,400 tons in the same months of 1941–2.

Can the right hon. and gallant Gentleman say whether his statement holds good that he would advise consumers to stock as much coal as they possibly can this summer?

No, Sir; but certainly we want them to stock as much as they can within the limits allowed.

Is it not true that the gap was chiefly made up through the mildness of the winter, the comparative absence of enemy action over here, and the patriotic self-denial of consumers?

I will accept the last-named possibility, which refers to the action of consumers, but I am sure my hon. and gallant Friend will appreciate that while nobody is more grateful for the mildness of the winter than I am, it would have been the greatest folly for us to depend upon the mildness of the weather in hoping to get through it.

Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman saying that there is no shortage of coal at the moment?

No, Sir, that would be a very dangerous statement indeed. We have only been able to get through this last winter, as suggested by my hon. and gallant Friend, by the patriotic action of consumers, both domestic and industrial, and, whether some people like it or not, by a great effort on the part of producers, particularly last autumn.

Will it be possible for my right hon. and gallant Friend at some time in the future to inform us what steps he has taken to increase production?