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Volume 436: debated on Thursday 24 April 1947

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asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what the percentage rate of absenteeism among miners will need to fall to in order that effective working time shall not be reduced under a five-clay week.

Absenteeism among face-workers would need to fall to 7 per cent. on the introduction of the five-day week if there was to be no reduction in the average number of shifts worked per face-worker per week. It must not be assumed, however, that, if absenteeism were to be above this rate, there would be a proportionate fall in output, for a loss on this account could be offset either through improved output per manshift, or through an increase in the total manpower available.

Would the right hon. Gentleman be prepared to confirm his statement in answer to my supplementary arising but of his answer, that, in fact, if deliberate absenteeism were reduced to normal proportions, there would be ample supplies of coal, both for home and export?

No, I cannot accept that statement. Obviously, absenteeism has something to do with output, but there are a great many other factors to be taken into account.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say how many miners were counted out because of absenteeism?