asked the Minister of Fuel and Power on how many occasions loudspeaker vans belonging to the National Coal Board have been used at Labour Party meetings.
One, Sir. A National Coal Board mobile cinema van was on a recruitment tour of the Cannock Chase area at the time when the Labour Party Rally was held on 6th July, and the opportunity was taken of showing mining films to the large crowds present. I am informed by the Board that they are prepared to send these vans to any large gathering of people purely for recruitment purposes, irrespective of what political party, if any, has organised the meeting.
Does not the Minister consider that it would be better if these National Coal Board vans stayed away from such meetings, and is he aware that not only were films shown but that the Minister's own speech was broadcast and that the Coal Board's beauty queen was alongside the Minister? May I seriously suggest that, in future, it would be far better for the National Coal Board not to broadcast the "Shinwell Ragtime Band."
If one of the means of broadcasting the need for recruiting persons to the mines is for the mobile cinema vans to avail themselves of the large and enthusiastic meetings which I address, they ought to be allowed to do so.
Could the Minister tell us how many recruits were obtained at that meeting?
No, Sir, I cannot, but what I can say is that, as a result of the activities of these vans and the recruitment campaign generally, we have recruited over 50,000 men and boys into the mining industry.
Does not my right hon. Friend think that it is rather futile to allow these vans to go to all political party meetings, because it is absolutely hopeless to get recruits to the mining industry, or any hard work, from the party opposite?
No, Sir, I cannot accept that view. What I have said denotes my extreme impartiality.
In the interest of political fairness, will the Minister see that the Conservative Party is not given undue advantage by the mass reproduction of his own speeches?
I should imagine that it members of the Conservative Party could appreciate the substance and force of my observations, it would do them a lot of good.