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Coal Industry

Volume 411: debated on Tuesday 29 May 1945

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asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he is aware of the concern among the general public regarding the coal situation; and whether he is considering the complete overhaul of the coal industry at the earliest opportunity with a view to allaying these misgivings and producing the necessary volume of coal.

Does my right hon. and gallant Friend consider that the reduction in their small meat ration has caused the physical fitness of the miners to be less than it was four years ago, and will he consider this and all relevant matters with a view to allaying the serious misgivings which are felt in all parts of the country?

Domestic Coal (Consumption And Cost)


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what is the average weekly consumption of coal by a man and wife who have no alternative system of heating or cooking; and what would be the increased cost due to the recent rise in coal prices.

In the present coal year, maximum deliveries would permit average weekly coal consumption of a small family with no alternative means of heating and cooking to be just over 1 cwt. The recent increase in coal prices applied to this quantity amounts to 2d.–2½d. per week.

Will the Minister explain how a rise of 3s. 6d. a ton becomes 2d. a cwt.?

After a rise in prices we generally take it to the nearest halfpenny. In some cases it is taken to the upper level and in other cases to the lower level.

Allocation (North Of England)


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he will consider amending his Ministry's advertisements that the maximum permitted quantity of coal in the North of England is one ton whereas in practice coal is allocated to merchants on the basis of 15 cwts. per customer and the full allocation is not always received, in view of the anxiety to coal dealers caused by these advertisements.

As I announced in this House on 26th April, the basis of the restrictions has been altered and the quantities obtainable without licence have been materially reduced. The North of England maximum for the 12 months ending 30th April next is 50 cwt., of which not more than 10 cwt. may be obtained in each of the three-month summer periods May-July and August-October, and not more than 10 cwt. in each winter period of two months. The advertisements now appearing already embody this change.

German Prisoners Of War


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power how many of the 1,000 German prisoners of war in this country who are miners have started work in British coal mines.

When are these prisoners of war going to start work to help to overcome the shortage of coal?

I cannot say anything more than that the matter is still under discussion together with the whole question of the employment of prisoners of war in this country.

Could they not be put into employment in open-cast mining where there would be no danger to underground miners.

Will the Minister employ our own British miners who are in the Army?

This matter is still under consideration. I would remind my hon. Friends that we can utilise some of these people to extract coal in Germany, which will be of great assistance to us here, because of the question of supplying S.H.A.E.F. and other sources.

Supplies, Birkenhead (Quality)


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he is aware that considerable quantities of outcrop coal, containing a large proportion of rock, are reaching Birkenhead and district for domestic consumption; and whether he will make arrangements to stop this hardship.

Only a vey small proportion of house coal allocated to Birkenhead comes from opencast sites. A few complaints have been received about the quality of this coal but on investigation these were found to be unjustified. A special examination was, however, made of the opencast sites and it was found that the screening operations at one site were unsatisfactory. Steps have been taken to remedy this.