asked the Prune Minister whether he is aware that, at present rates of production, less than 195,000,000 tons of coal will be produced this year; whether he will make a persona] statement to the. miners and to the country of the consequences which will follow to all sections of the community next winter from this low rate of production; and whether he will give personal support, at the earliest opportunity, to the recent appeal to the miners made by the Foreign Secretary.
It is too early yet to say what the total production during 1947 will be. I should like to take this opportunity of endorsing the recent appeal made by my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. I am considering my hon. Friend's suggestion that I should myself make a further statement.
While thanking the Prime Minister for his answer, may I beg of him to give details to the country at the earliest moment showing that the present rate of coal production means that the families of Britain will endure serious food cuts in the near future, and Will he make an appeal making it clear that the miners are the "fighter pilots" in the 1947 Battle of Britain?
Is it not fairly obvious that the figure of 190 million tons may be a possibility, that 195 millions tons is doubtful, but that, as for 200 million tons, it is pretty certain we shall not get it? Will the Government now make some positive attack to establish ways and means of achieving that further 10 million tons to make up the 200 million tons? The attack can only be made if the Government will take risks.
That attack is being made but, as I have said, I cannot estimate what the amount will be. However, I can assure the House that every effort is being made to obtain the amount required.
Before the Prime Minister makes that appeal, will he remember that the miners can be led but not driven?
In view of the fact that, according to the President of the Board of Trade, Britain's independent economic survival as a great Power is at stake, will the Prime Minister bear in mind that the Economic Survey said that the production of 200 million tons is an indispensible minimum?
I am quite well aware of that.