asked the Minister of Fuel and Power, having regard to the importance of adequate supplies of coal to our defence commitments, on what grounds opencast coal mining is to be wound up by 1953.
The policy of His Majesty's Government for the opencast production of coal during the years 1950 to 1953 was explained by my right hon. Friend the Minister of State for Economic Affairs in a public statement issued on 19th January last, of which I am sending the hon. Lady a copy. The statement was made after careful consideration, and it would be premature to anticipate any changes that may or may not be required.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I attended the Debate and heard what was said and that, therefore, there is no need to send me a copy? Was the statement made with the full concurrence of the Cabinet, and are we to assume, therefore, that there will be a vast increase in the output of deep-mined coal?
The statement was not made in Debate but while Parliament was in Recess, in January last. Therefore, I think the hon. Lady would do well to study it.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that, when we had the Debate on this question of opencast coal mining eight weeks ago, in the House, the Opposition were advocating the almost complete winding-up of opencast coal mining by 1951, and that among those who took part in the Debate was the hon. Lady?
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there was a Debate on opencast coal mining shortly before the House rose, in which I took part, and that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Fuel and Power gave the date 1953? Is he aware that I am anxious to know whether that date will be kept?
I think the hon. Lady would do well to study the statements made, not only in January last but also by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary, because in her Question she has misquoted it.