Coal Supply.

Oral Answers to Questions — Demobilisation. – in the House of Commons on 31st March 1919.

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Photo of Mr Frederick Macquisten Mr Frederick Macquisten , Glasgow Springburn

7.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the Coal Controller agreed to make good losses resulting from the working of collieries from the date on which he assumed control thereof, and that so far he has refused or delayed to do so to any other than those working smithy coal; whether he is aware that profits have been made only by those who can get shipping business to neutral nations at prices ranging from 60s. to 90s. per ton f.o.b. shipping ports, while those to the extent of 60 per cent., who have had to sell their outputs for home consumption only at 25s. to 27s. per ton (free on trucks) at the pit-head, have made losses; and whether he will take steps at once to fix a price for all coal (free on trucks) at the pit, whether for land sale or for shipment business, adequate to cover working cost plus a reasonable percentage on the capital involved, the difference between such fixed prices and the price obtained for neutral and other foreign shipments to be made payable to the Coal Controller to equalise the position of coal masters?

Photo of Mr William Bridgeman Mr William Bridgeman , Oswestry

The whole question of the coal-mining industry is now before the Coal Industry Commission, and until a further Report is received from that Commission it is not proposed to make any changes.

Photo of Sir Gerald Hurst Sir Gerald Hurst , Manchester Moss Side

8.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware of the shortage of coal in Manchester and that the amount of emergency and reserve coal does not now exceed 540 tons; and if lie will say what action he proposes to take thereon?

Photo of Mr William Briggs Mr William Briggs , Manchester, Blackley

9.

asked whether his attention has been called to the coal short- age in Manchester; and whether he can so increase the coal supply for Manchester that householders will receive their full rations?

Photo of Colonel Sir Joseph Nall Colonel Sir Joseph Nall , Manchester Hulme

10.

asked whether he is aware that the average quantity of coal coming into Manchester for household purposes does not exceed 12,000 tons, and that such quantity is 6,500 tons short of the amount required to provide each house with its minimum ration of 2 cwts. per week; and what action he proposes, to take?

Photo of Mr Augustine Hailwood Mr Augustine Hailwood , Manchester Ardwick

11.

asked if he is, aware of the shortage of coal which exists in Manchester, due to the fact that during this year the average amount of coal going into the city for household purposes has not exceeded 12,000 tons, whereas for a minimum ration of 2 cwts. per week for each of the 185,836 rateable premises a quantity of 18,583 tons per week is required; and if he will say what steps are being taken to remedy this deficit?

Photo of Mr William Bridgeman Mr William Bridgeman , Oswestry

I am informed that during the last four weeks the supply of coal to the Manchester area has been at the rate of over 25,000 tons per week, and that this should be more than sufficient to meet current demands.

An HON. MEMBER:

Will that supply continue?

Major NEWMAN:

13.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he can say how many of those employed in the coal-mining and allied industries are now on strike; and whether the action of this section of organised labour is responsible for the further drastic curtailment of the amount of coal available for the householder?

Photo of Mr William Bridgeman Mr William Bridgeman , Oswestry

As regards the first part of the question, the number of coal-miners in the whole of the United Kingdom on strike on Saturday morning was 115,127.

With regard to the second part of the question, the recent temporary curtailment in the amount of coal available for domestic supplies in London and the Southern and Eastern counties is due to the fact that, in addition to the 43,000 miners still on strike in Nottinghamshire, a number of miners recently came on strike in Derbyshire and Warwickshire, from all of which areas the coal supplies for these counties are chiefly drawn. I am glad to say that these men have now returned to work.

Major NEWMAN:

14.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the Metropolitan householder has, by direction of the Coal Controller, been limited to a supply of 224lb. of coal; is he aware of the inconvenience and hardship during inclement weather that this further limitation of the coal supply is causing, and will he give the reasons that have compelled the Coal Controller to make this Order?

Photo of Mr William Bridgeman Mr William Bridgeman , Oswestry

Owing to the stoppage of work in certain Midland coalfields the supply of coal to the Metropolitan area and the Southern and Eastern counties is reduced by over one-third. Relief measures have been taken, but without a drastic curtailment of deliveries to the consumer it is impossible to supply coal to everyone in need. The inconvenience referred to can only affect the larger consumers, many of whom have private stocks of coal on hand sufficient to meet this temporary emergency.

Major NEWMAN:

Is that order still in force?

Photo of Mr William Bridgeman Mr William Bridgeman , Oswestry

I believe so, but I should not like to give a definite answer without notice.

Photo of Mr Noel Billing Mr Noel Billing , Hertford

Can the hon. Gentleman say if we are exporting coal from this country at present?

Photo of Mr William Bridgeman Mr William Bridgeman , Oswestry

I should like to have notice of that question, but I rather think we are exporting some.

Photo of Mr James Gilbert Mr James Gilbert , Southwark Central

24.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that there has been a further shortage of coal in London during last week; can he state if there are any reserve stocks held by the Coal Controller for the use of London consumers; and will he state what arrangements have been made during the existing strike so that the small weekly buyers and consumers shall be able to obtain supplies?

Photo of Mr William Bridgeman Mr William Bridgeman , Oswestry

The restriction of deliveries of coal to private consumers to 2 cwts. in the week has resulted in a sufficiency of coal being available for all small consumers up to date. Relief trains of coal have been worked into London and other affected districts from coalfields in full work. Certain cargoes of seaborne coal have also been brought into the Thames and other Southern ports. The Controller of Coal Mines still has appreciable reserve stocks of coal at his disposal.

Photo of Mr Noel Billing Mr Noel Billing , Hertford

Under these circumstances, may I ask whether the hon. Member will cease the export of coal until the bare necessities of this country are served?