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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 William Brace Mr William Brace , Abertillery

I think my hon. Friend is right in point of fact. I hope the House will remember that this is not my first day in this House, and I would not make a statement like this unless I was going to make a qualification. But since then there has been a conference called at Keswick by the Miners' Federation of Great Britain, who have accepted this scheme, and it is a scheme which we accept in spirit and in letter. It will be observed that there is an arrangement under which strikes and lock-outs are to be obviated as far as possible, and that arrangement will make it much more easy to settle our disputes by argument rather than by the other methods. The foundation is the pit committee. Then we come to the districts. The United Kingdom is divided into 14 separate districts. Scotland is to have two, Yorkshire one, and South Wales and Monmouthshire one. The chairman and vice-chairman of the separate districts will be appointed by the Minister of Mines. I should like to emphasise this Ministry of Mines. We think that an industry which is a key industry, giving employment to more than a million people, in which millions of capital are invested, ought not to be treated as a kind of annexe of the Board of Trade, and therefore we are putting forward the demand that this great industry shall have its own Ministry—its own department. In each of those 14 districts there will be a district committee. The chairman and vice-chairman will be appointed by the Minister of Mines. Four members will be elected by ballot by the workmen, so that, taking Yorkshire, the colliery workers of Yorkshire would elect four members of the district committee, and the chairman and vice-chairman would be appointed by the Minister of Mines. Then the officials are to elect four members—the managerial side of the industry is to elect four. That makes ten, and then four are to be elected by the consumers of coal.