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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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We feel very aggrieved about this business. We feel we have been treated pretty badly by the Government. After all, leaders of men have only their reputation to stand upon. Democracy is not easily led. If leaders are to have the confidence of their people then they must make only those statements which they are assured are statements of fact. When we went to our Congresses and argued in favour of the continuation of the work of the Commission we did so because we thought that the Government, through the mouth of the Home Secretary, had given an undertaking that if the Commission recommended nationalisation the Government would accept that as final and would introduce legislation accordingly. My right hon. Friend, the Leader of the House, used much more guarded language. He rather misled us, too. He will not mind my saying so, not that I nor anyone would charge him with an intention to mislead anyone. I would like to bear public testimony to my conviction that he is the very essence of honour. But that does not preclude me from quoting a passage which really did mislead us. When the right hon. Gentleman met us at Downing Street on March 24th, 1919, he said to us as miners: If this Commission is allowed to continue interim reports will be issued dealing with subject after subject in which you are vitally interested; and not merely will those interim reports be issued which in ordinary circumstances might be put into the waste-paper basket, but it is part of the Government's undertaking to deal with these reports in the spirit as well as in the letter, and steps will be taken to enable those recommendations to be carried into effect.