asked the Minister of Fuel and Power the total of miners' free and concessionary coal distributed in the 12 months ending at the latest convenient date; and what percentage of it comprised, respectively, first, second and third grades of house-coal.
5·1 million tons in 1953, but I do not know the grades.
Is the Minister aware that there have been complaints from members of the mining industry themselves about the quality of concessionary coal? Does not this underline the fact that the type of coal now being mined, and the figures of improved coal production, are not as satisfactory as they appear on paper?
It is obvious that we should all like an improvement, but the amount and quality of this coal varies according to an infinite number of agreements, which are part of wage and service agreements in the industry. I know that there have been complaints.
Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that many of the best mines in our coalfields are now worked out, because of which we have to accept an inferior quality of coal? Is he further aware that the screening plants in the coal industry are capable of dealing with only 40 per cent. of the coal which is now produced? Will he speed up capital investment, including that in relation to screening plants, in order to get better quality coal?
I agree that many of the best mines have been worked out and that there has been a very considerable increase in the amount of screening done.