We need your support to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can continue to hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Coal Mines (Nationalisation).

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

Alert me about debates like this

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

I bow to your ruling, but am glad to know that those on the other side have a conscience left as far as the nationalisation of mines goes. If it really meant greater safety for the miner, greater recompense for the perilous nature of their work, shorter hours, greater safety, and also greater output, those things would be very good, and I should certainly support them; but because I believe it is only a sham scheme, and it is not real nationalisation, it is not something in the best interests of the community, something that is not for the betterment of the community themselves, that I oppose it. It is something put forward by men who have persuaded themselves that under a system something like Bolshevism there would be a chance that they would be the Lenins or the Trotskys in power. They do not understand, some of them are merely converts during the last two or three years to the principle of nationalisation, and they are dictated to to-day from outside by people who are not Members of this House, who may have been Members, who are disappointed because they cannot become Members of this House, and it is unhealthy to have utterances of that kind, and though all the best interests of the miners may not be served by the present system, it may be that they could be served by an honest, straightforward scheme of nationalisation. But that is not here. I have been taken to task already in my district, because I live in a mining district, for saying, "Why should the Government hand over everything to the miners?" but I ask, "Why should they?" Why should not the Government do all that is best for the country as a whole? I say it to-day to my people. They still believe me, and if my majority goes down at the next election, or if I find myself an absentee from this House, I will go down fighting with my colours nailed to the mast; but I have not deserted those who supported me, as some others have done. Surely a man who holds my views is now entitled to speak as freely as they are entitled to do. That is what I am doing.

I do not believe that this is really an honest movement for nationalisation. Mr. Justice Sankey, the Judge appointed by Heaven knows whom, was formerly acting barrister for the Miners' Federation, and he has had briefs through me and through my friends on the Opposition Bench. The right hon, Gentleman in his eloquent speech held up Mr. Justice Sankey as an example. Mr. Justice Sankey always did well for us, and did not do badly for those who employed him in the past. It was mentioned to-day by some hon. Members that the control is to be by so many of those and so many of the others, and so on all round. That was what my right hon. Friend declares to be a fair mixture of miners, coal owners, and so on. Is there anything else behind it? Where is the real power? Is there any triple alliance? Is there any guarantee in reference to anything of that kind? This proposal does not, in my opinion, arise from a healthy desire to improve the conditions of the workers of the country or to prevent their exploitation by profiteering or any other means, but arises from an underhand and underworld desire to do an injury to the future well-being of this country. I ask Members of this House to play the game as Britishers. I say to them, "Forget your party politics; forget the side you may be on if it is opposed to that which your own judgment and honesty tell you is best for the nation." I cannot polish my language and when I sit down I shall remember that there are lots of things I ought to have said but have not said; but I do repeat that this is not a real, earnest, healthy movement for nationalisation, and that if the proposals made from the other side are agreed to a great injury will be done not only to the general community but to the miners themselves. The miners, God bless them! have always played the game with me, barring the Independent Labour Party and the Bolsheviks. This has been a marvellous campaign, subsidised from somewhere—some have said from Germany, and others that Trotsky and Lenin have sent money. Lecturers have been busy week by week, and the Home Office has allowed all sorts of treacherous utterances to be made. If you are a Bolshevik there are always hands to meet you at the station, and the Labour party will stand up for you. I am speaking as one who knows. I would say to the Labour party that as they grow in numbers they must also grow-in consciousness of their responsibilities to this great country. Then the community and those they represent will not suffer. As one who has always stood for nationalisation of the mines, and other things too, I hope that on this occasion we shall not play into the hands of the Bolsheviks, who want to upset what is in the best interests of the country.