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Coal Mines (Nationalisation).

Part of Orders of the Day — King's Speech. – in the House of Commons on 11th February 1920.

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Photo of Mr Charles Stanton Mr Charles Stanton , Merthyr Tydfil Aberdare

I suppose that I may claim the right, as a man who has worked in mines for thirteen or fourteen years, has acted as a mining agent for something like twelve or thirteen years, and has had as much to do with mining in South Wales during that period, which was a troublesome period, as any Member of this House who is connected with mining, or as anyone outside, to recall that I have always been a believer in the principle of the nationalisation of the mines However, we have recently discovered that there is another side to these things and my view has changed somewhat by sad experience of passing events and of things which are likely to come into being shortly. I have advocated nationalisation of the mines, and that the mineral wealth of this country should be held for and controlled in the best interests of the whole community; but I never suggested that it should be done for a class. Now we discover that the nationalisation which our frieuds are asking for is something entirely different, something which is more like syndicalisation and something for which to-day we use the term "Bolshevism." The right hon. Gentle man who moved the Motion to-day was, I always remember, an old colleague of mine, and I have listened to him swaying conferences down in Wales in the sweet old days when sometimes he had difficulty in dissuading me from advocating what he has been advocating to-day when I was advocating nationalisation of the mines and of other things.

I remember quite well when the right hon. Member would take me to task, as no doubt he had a perfect right to do, he did so very ably. Sometimes I was able to get the conference against him, but to-day I ask you to look at what you read in the papers, and I wish to say it is all a sham, it is all a humbug where you read of resolutions being carried stating that the miners are in favour of nationalisation of the mines. Send someone to inquire and you will discover, if you do not already know, that it is all humbug. You have got certain men who control and stage-manage those meetings and every conference, every lodge meeting and every congress. Naturally all the other industrial workers would help the miners in what they believe to be an honest proposition for their betterment, especially when they were persuaded that it meant cheaper coal, better conditions, greater safety for the miner, better conditions of things all round for the people who suffer by the evil capitalists who put their money into mines. That sort of thing has gone. I preached it in the old days, and I have lived long enough to be ashamed of the fact that I have condemned wholesale men who lost their money in mines as well as those who made their millions. I am still out to prevent those people exploiting labour and the nation and making their millions, but I am not out to humbug myself. I say to the people who trust me, who sent me here to speak on their behalf, and not for my own self- aggrandisement, that it provokes one unduly to hear the humbug that is uttered from time to time from the other side by men whose repentance and conversion have been very recent, who say what they are saying so as to fit in with the machinery which is working now. And this all comes about because someone started the humbug some time ago; and the people who were opposed to our winning the war, who objected to recruitment, who declared always for Germany, are the people who are now shouting for nationalisation of the mines. (Interruption.)