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Volume 486: debated on Monday 9 April 1951

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asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what percentage of coal was cleaned of dirt in 1947; and what is the position now.

In 1947, the percentage of coal cleaned either by mechanical means or by hand was about 78 per cent.; in 1950 it was 82 per cent.

Has the amount of dirt taken from coal since nationalisation been much greater than before nationalisation, and, when the pits were taken over, was there adequate cleansing machinery in the old pits?

Before nationalisation the cutting machinery had been increased much more rapidly than the cleansing machinery, and there is a backlog of mechanical cleaning plant to make up.

Would the right hon. Gentleman suggest to his hon. Friend the Member for Swindon (Mr. T. Reid) that he asks the housewives of Swindon whether they agree that their coal is cleaner?

Has the right hon. Gentleman considered the passage in the Gas Council's Report which says that the low quality and dirtiness of the coal resulted in an extra million tons' consumption?

If the right hon. Gentleman had looked at the Order Paper he would have seen that there is a Question down about that.

Would the right hon. Gentleman tell the House how much of the 82 per cent. is mechanically cleaned?

Would my right hon. Friend answer the last part of my Question? Was the machinery for cleansing the coal adequate in the pits before nationalisation?

No. I have said it was not adequate because the cutting machinery had been increased much more rapidly than the cleansing machinery.