Mines Department of the Board of Trade.

Orders of the Day — Supply. – in the House of Commons at on 15 February 1926.

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Motion made, and Question proposed, That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £16,757, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1926, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Mines Department of the Board of Trade.

Photo of Mr George Lane-Fox Mr George Lane-Fox , Barkston Ash

The subject of this Estimate is entirely restricted to two matters, which could not have been anticipated in the original Estimate. I refer to the setting up of the Coal Commission and the granting of the coal subsidy as one subject, the other being the preparation of a Catalogue of Abandoned Mines. I should like to explain what I mean by thin "Catalogue of Abandoned Mines." Early in the year there had been a series of accidents due to the influx of water from abandoned works. A Committee inquired into it, and they recommended that we should try to obtain the plans of mines abandoned before 1872. Though I was warned that this would mean a Supplementary Estimate, I felt that seeing that it was a matter of such great importance, the House would certainly wish that it should be hastened on its quickly as possible, and I am very glad to say we have been able to get a very large proportion, and in a very short time hope to have a complete catalogue, to which everyone can refer in order to find out what is the possibility of working in close proximity to disused mines. We have had a good deal of work to discover where the various plans were, but we have searched every possible place, and the result is we have got a very large number. These were matters which could not he anticipated when our original Estimates were presented.

Under Subhead A, of the £4,225 additional sum required, £800 is for statistical information, which we had to get for the Royal Commission. That, of course, involved an immense amount of work on the part of officers in my Department. The Commission, as the Committee know, is working extremely hard, and requires an enormous amount of additional information, which has involved a great deal of overtime on the part of officers of the Department. Then there is a sum of £2,102 out of the £4,225 for the additional staff which we have had to appoint to deal with the Subvention. It will be obvious that a great deal of extra work is involved in dealing with the Subvention, and additional staff to that extent was required. The third item under Subhead A, £1,323, is for preparing the catalogue of abandoned mines, which obviously requires a good deal of sorting, classifying and arranging, and that has involved certain additional staff. Under Subhead B. Travelling and Incidental Expenses, the item of £900 has been incurred through dealing with the Subvention and for tracing these plans. It will be apparent to everyone that the Subvention has led to a considerably larger amount of travelling by officials.

Sub-head EE, "Employment of firms of Accountants on Audits in connection with the Coal Mining Industry Subvention," represents, I am sure, a saving of a good deal more than the sum of £12,500 against this Item. Sub-head H, "Appropriations in Aid," £318, represents the amount which is being recovered in respect of salaries of officers in my Department. I should be glad to answer any further questions, but this is the general account of what this Estimate is for, namely, two things that could not have been anticipated before the Subvention and the Royal Commission, and the preparation of a catalogue of abandoned mines.

Photo of Commander Hon. Joseph Kenworthy Commander Hon. Joseph Kenworthy , Kingston upon Hull Central

I wish to ask one or two questions, but, first of all, I want to make a protest. I thank the Financial Secretary to the Treasury for the close attention he is giving to these Votes. It is quite refreshing to find someone from the Treasury present. I would suggest to him that the information as to the amounts for overtime, for additional staff, and so on, might just as well have been set out on the Paper. No extra expense for paper need have been incurred, as there is half a page of Page 17 not occupied. It would have enabled hon. Members to see really what we are discussing. It is not very convenient to have the amounts explained at the last minute, when they might just as well have been on the Paper some days ago. I really think the Treasury would save the time of the Committee and of the Government if they gave more information in their Supplementary Estimate.

Having made that protest, which I hope will produce good, the questions I have, to ask are these: There is £800 for overtime, paid to the officials of the Department. I am very surprised to hear that the permanent officials—I suppose Grade 1 officers—are paid overtime. I thought they were not. In these controversies at present going on about the hours of work of civil servants, we are told that really civil servants work much longer hours than are laid down, sometimes as much as 12 hours. I did not know they were paid overtime. If it were the typists, messengers, and manual labourers who were paid overtime, certainly, but I did not think it was the custom of salaried officers, who get holidays and full pay, to receive overtime payment.

Photo of Mr Ronald McNeill Mr Ronald McNeill , Canterbury

The higher grades are not paid overtime. It is the clerical class, and those grades who are always paid overtime, and quite rightly, too.

Photo of Commander Hon. Joseph Kenworthy Commander Hon. Joseph Kenworthy , Kingston upon Hull Central

I quite agree with what the right hon. gentleman says. That clears up the matter, but when the Secretary for Mines talked of officials of the Department, I did not visualise typists, sorters, and so on. I never heard of typists being called "officials" before. However, that clears that matter up, although I really think in these times, when there is acute unemployment among these office workers, excessive overtime should be avoided. It is not good for health. An extra staff should be taken on, and I am not sure much extra expense would be incurred. Extra staff were taken on for part of this work in the preparation of the Catalogue, and therefore no question of principle is involved, and I think that should have been done in the case of the others.

With reference to the sum of £12,500 for analysing the figures of the colliery companies, in connection with the coal subsidy, this raises a very interesting question as to how thorough was the examination. In particular, did they only look into the books of the colliery companies or into the books of subsidiary companies as well? Did they examine the accounts of the companies which supply timber, rails, and equipment to the mines? I think this matter will be pursued by hon. Members above the Gangway, who have intimate knowledge of what is going on in the coalfields. Are the books of the companies, who sell the coal under different names, apparently with no connection with companies who produce the coal, examined? How thorough was that examination, because I made a speech a little time ago in the country in which I referred to the matter of the colliery companies making hidden profits in certain parts of the country by selling this timber to themselves actually through intermediaries who, of course, take some of the profits. I had a very sharp rejoinder from the Mineowners Association, who suggested that I was sufficiently employed without going into these matters. After that, I had a sheaf of letters from colliery managers and engineers and so on—

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

I do not quite see how the hon. and gallant Gentleman's remarks are connected with this Vote.

Photo of Commander Hon. Joseph Kenworthy Commander Hon. Joseph Kenworthy , Kingston upon Hull Central

Under Sub-head E.E. provision is made for the payment of fees for the auditing of the returns and figures furnished by the colliery companies and the sum of £12,500 is put down: and it seemed to me that on this I could ask how this money was employed in the examination of the accounts. The Secretary for Mines is familiar with this charge.

Photo of Mr George Lane-Fox Mr George Lane-Fox , Barkston Ash

The subvention is paid to the colliery companies and not to the subsidiary companies.

Photo of Commander Hon. Joseph Kenworthy Commander Hon. Joseph Kenworthy , Kingston upon Hull Central

Yes, but surely the colliery company that is really making a hidden profit in the way I have described have no right to get the subvention—not at all! The company can sell at an artificially low price to these apparently independent subsidiary companies. The matter is one which can only be discovered by the Department of the Secretary for Mines by a high-class accountant's examination, and if the money has gone in that way then it is very satisfactory indeed. There is evidence that this sort of thing is going on, and I should like to be sure. I have had a very remarkable correspondence on the subject from managers engineers, and others absolutely supporting and giving chapter and verse. The thing should be very fully explored by the Secretary for Mines. I make no charge at all against; the accountants employed by the Ministry or the Miners' Federation. The matter is one of instructions to be given by the hon. Gentleman's Department to the accountants of the Board of Trade. I hope no further subvention will be paid unless the Secretary for Mines is quite satisfied in the matter.

Photo of Mr George Warne Mr George Warne , Wansbeck

I have nothing but praise for the Secretary for Mines. The Committee will remember the sad catastrophe that happened last March in Newcastle at a pit at Scotswood where an inrush of water took place, and there was loss of life. The inquiry that was promised has been held. Those of us who attended that inquiry are quite satisfied and understand exactly how the mistake was made. The catastrophe was caused through the colliery workings cutting into an abandoned mine. What I want to bring to the notice of the Secretary for Mines is this: The plan of the abandoned mine was known and was in the possession of the estate agent of the royalty owners, One colliery in the vicinity knew of the existence of that plan. The colliery where the unfortunate accident happened was quite unaware of the mine, or the existence of the plan. Now that this money has been spent, I want to say on behalf of the mining representatives in this House that they would not object to the Secretary for Mines spending a good deal more in order to get this catalogue fortified and brought up to date. If I understand the feeling of the House, as I noted it last April when the sorrow of this catastrophe was still hanging over the Members of this House, I do not think that hon. Members on the other side—if I understood their feelings and their sympathy with the miners—would object to many more thousands being spent in order to try to avoid these terrible calamities in the mines.

When the money is being spent we want to make sure that the recording of these plans is going to be effective. What I want to suggest to the Secretary for Mines—perhaps he has already done it, but the matter needs emphasising—is: that these plans do not want to be simply recorded here in the Mines Department. Inspectors of the hon. Gentleman's Department travel about the districts and they want to be made fully aware of all the information possible in respect to these abandoned mines. All this information wants to be put into the working plans of the colliery. As I said one of the collieries concerned had full knowledge of the plan, and the other one had not. If the inspectors knowing about it had some sort of duty to see that the plans of an abandoned mine were brought to the notice of those concerned, and co-related with the actual working plans of the collieries that are working adjacent, it would be to the good. We want that done, because we are satisfied that if this is not done there may be more of these catastrophes overtaking the mining community. I will not further detain the Committee, but I trust the Secretary for Mines will go on and get this done, and will see that the information is put into the hands of the inspectors, and of the colliery companies; and we may be sure that what we had to witness last March, the sad catastrophe which overtook the miners, which could have been avoided had the plan been recorded, will, happily, be avoided in the future.

Photo of Mr John Tinker Mr John Tinker , Leigh

I should like to ask the Secretary for Mines what districts show returns of more than 15d. per ton are getting the subvention, and whether he can tell me whether any district has been able to pay anything back? Is there in existence any district that has been able to provide in the way I suggest? The second point I want to ask about is this: We have a system like this: Take a district with six collieries in it. Colliery returns more than what has been taken to pay the minimum, or 105 per cent. B returns 90 per cent. C returns 80 per cent. D returns 85 per cent. E returns 80 per cent. F returns 70 per cent. For the purpose of the thing being taken as a whole there is an average of 85 per cent. towards paying the minimum rates, and I understand that under Government agreement or subvention that would show 15 per cent. over the whole of the district short of paying the minimum wage under the 1924 agreement. Every colliery in that district will have 15 per cent. to be added to the wages paid, but one of the collieries already has 5 per cent. more than necessary to enable it to pay the wages. Is it getting another 15 per cent. on the top of that, and does that follow all the way down? Has the hon. Gentleman's accountants found out how many of these collieries have had money from the Government which have already made a profit, because it is a most important point in the governing of any future subvention. When we agreed to the subvention it was never with the idea that collieries that were making a profit should have a further profit from the Government. Some are making money out of the Government and out of the subvention. Has the Secretary for Mines any information on this point? Have his accountants been able to find oat, so that there is no doubt about it that that kind of thing is not going on? We want to be in readiness for May next in this matter, if it is continued—and I hope it will be continued in some form or another—but we want to see that the colliery companies making profits do not get further Government help.

Photo of Mr Joshua Ritson Mr Joshua Ritson , City of Durham

I want to emphasise what has been said with respect to this £12,500. If hon. Members take into account the thousands of lives that have been lost, which appeals to a practical miner always more than anything else, then this sum is a very small sum indeed. There should be more information sought in these particular areas such as we have heard about to-night. I would like to ask whether we have really experts who know the geography of the district or whether any note is taken of those people who have lived all their lives in the place and worked in the mines, some 30, some 40 and some 50 years? We have instances of the kind in Durham in the father of my hon. Friend the Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. Richardson). Do the owners consult other than the managers, or do they make inquiries from the experiencel old men who have lived in the place and who know personally all about it? I think there ought to be some consideration given to these old miners in these areas where you always have a danger of a water leakage from an abandoned mine. We were talking a few moments ago about overtime for clerks in the Civil Service. We do not object to that, and I hope the Secretary for Mines will not be too rigid in seeing whether he cannot pay some of these people whose actual knowledge of these abandoned mines is greater than any of which we have heard lately. We want more plans at the colliery offices, and we ought to have them lying at the Miners' Associations in the different localities.

I should like to draw the attention of the Secretary for Mines to the Subhead E.E., "Employment of Firms of Accountants on Audit in connection with the Coal-mining Industry Subvention." What kind of returns do the colliery companies supply that all this money need be spent? Under the wages agreement there is a huge amount of accountancy going on, which costs us a huge amount of money, and surely we could get those figures easier and at less cost. I do not trust the accountancy of the Department of the right hon. Gentleman. I have had an application from a coalowner this week-end—I am just giving this as an instance; it happened to me, along with my hon. Friend the Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson), a coalowner in the county of Durham, who is a "diehard Tory," and who is, I believe, a distinguished relative of the right hon. Gentleman himself. He made application to me three years ago to say that he had some thousands of pounds which were due to the Government under decontrol, and that he could not get rid of it. I am prepared to give the right hon. Gentleman the name and address of the company. I took the matter up under the Labour Government, and wrote to the Secretary for Mines then and tried to explain the position to him, and his advisers did as they will do with the right hon. Gentleman, told him it was a lot of humbug.

This gentleman is a very distinguished coalowner. He has spoken to me on no less than three occasions, and has also spoken to my hon. Friend the Member for Chester-le-Street. He says that he wants to be rid of this money—that he is getting 4 per cent. on it, but that it is owing to the Government. If there be £10,000 or £11,000 in the possession of this individual which belongs to the Government, I am very much afraid there may be other owners in Durham, not so honest as he is in putting his case forward, who may be holding many more thousands of pounds At a time when the Government are professing to be very much interested in economy, surely inquiries ought to be made about these thousands of pounds left over from the days of the Coalition Government which they do not think fit to collect.

We are pleased that the right hon. Gentleman has begun to help us in the inquiries he is making as to accidents, but I do submit to him that he cannot put a cash value upon human lives. In the last accident that we had, at Scots- wood, all that has been spent so far has been about £40 for each of our men that were lost. I say to the Government, they would do well to spend all the money they can with the object of averting accidents. In that way they will give confidence to our men in their work and they will get returns from the men. Give us confidence in our lives and we will give you returns.

Photo of Mr George Barker Mr George Barker , Abertillery

We mining Members are very glad, indeed, that the Secretary for Mines is paying serious practical attention to the question of abandoned mines, and I would like to ask him one or two questions. In making inquiries with reference to abandoned mines, is there any time limit; how far does the inquiry go back? There was a case in North Staffordshire where a man was walking along a street in Hanley when, suddenly, the ground under his feet gave way, and he disappeared down a cavity of some hundreds of feet. No one knew there was an abandoned mine there. This catastrophe was the first information people had about it. Some 70 or 80 years ago a colliery had been worked within a quarter of a mile of the spot. No one knew what had become of the shaft and of the underground workings. Further, I would like to know who is responsible for filling up these abandoned shafts? Is it the colliery company, or is it the Government? Sometimes these shafts are left exposed for very long periods. Sometimes they are merely covered over with planks and with earth, and when the planks rot the earth disappears. Sometimes they are bricked over and left to stand until the bricks fall down the shaft. There has been great laxity in the past with reference to these abandoned mines, and it would be interesting to hear from the Secretary for Mines what he has to say on the points which have been raised.

Another point—what is included in the definition "abandoned mines"? Does it include mines that have been out of production during the last two or three years, because, if so, I would like to know what steps the Secretary for Mines has taken to get them re-opened, or whether he has taken any steps at all; and whether any of the subsidy goes to indemnifying these colliery companies, thus putting a premium upon keeping mines closed instead of keeping them open? These are important questions and they interest us exceedingly. We think that if State money is to be used as a subsidy it should be used to the fullest extent in finding employment for the workmen in the industry. In my own area, within 1000 or 2000 yards of where I live, there are three collieries which have been closed during the last 12 months. Are those collieries in the list of abandoned mines? They are the Vivian Colliery, the Tillery Colliery and the Gray Colliery, all at Abertillery. How much, if anything, is paid out of the subsidy to the owners of these particular mines? We have had very little opportunity for a long time to ventilate our grievances with reference to the mining industry, and I am glad this Vote is down to-night, and hope we shall get some real information, and that- the Secretary for Mines will regard this Vote in a very serious light.

Photo of Mr Thomas Grundy Mr Thomas Grundy , Rother Valley

The Secretary for Mines is entitled to our thanks for the steps he has taken towards getting plans of abandoned mines. As miners we appreciate that work. I would like the Secretary to take notice of this; it is not very often that I get up to speak in the House I want to know this—where he has failed to get plans of an abandoned mine and he knows that mines are being worked in the vicinity, what steps is he taking in respect of those mines working in the vicinity? It appears to me that special precautions ought to be taken by mines near these abandoned workings, and that special notification ought to be given to them. As has been mentioned already by an hon. Member, in some cases where the Department fail to get plans of abandoned mines old men in the district may be able to give a lot of very valuable information. I have in mind a case where a man who worked at a pit that closed in 1882 was sent for by the management of an adjacent colliery and was able to point where the workings of the abandoned pit had run, of which they have not got plans.

Another point I wish to raise is whether the subsidy is being paid to mines which are making a profit. Has the Secretary for Mines noticed some of the evidence given by a colliery owner to the Coal Commission? He refused to send in his averages for the purpose of regulating the men's wages, but when he was asked if he had sent them in for the purpose of getting a subsidy he said, "Yes, that is money for nothing." That was Sir Charles Markham's evidence at the Coal Commission. Is this "money for nothing" in the shape of the subsidy going to be paid to collieries that are making a profit? I should particularly like the Secretary for Mines to deal with the first point, which I look upon as rather important.

Photo of Major Guy Kindersley Major Guy Kindersley , Hitchin

I want to ask the Secretary for Mines one question relating to Sub-head E.E., £12,500 for accountants employed by the Department to audit the returns and figures, furnished by the colliery companies, on which the subvention is computed. Why could not audited returns and figures have been supplied by the companies themselves? The Department might surely have asked them to supply such returns and figures, certified by a chartered accountant. There may be some reason why that could not be done, but, on the face of it, it seems to me unnecessary that the Government should have borne that cost instead of the colliery owners.

Photo of Mr Joseph Batey Mr Joseph Batey , Spennymoor

The Supplementary Estimate which we are now discussing is regarded by some of us as the most important we have been dealing with to-night. We have a very close connection with the Mines Department, and we are deeply interested in it. The next Vote deals with the Royal Commission, and I notice that in this Supplementary Estimate it is stated under "A" that £800 is required for information for the Royal Commission. As I want to say a word or two on the Royal Commission when we come to it, I was wondering whether I could deal with the Royal Commission now, or whether I should wait until we come to that Vote.

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

I think the hon. Member had better wait till we come to that Vote.

Photo of Mr Joseph Batey Mr Joseph Batey , Spennymoor

In this Estimate the Secretary for Mines tells us there is £800 for information to the Royal Commission. Why should we have that £800 under this Estimate and not under the Royal Commission Estimate, which deals with expenses for the Royal Commission? Before I proceed further, I would like to ask your ruling as to whether that £800 should not be under the next Vote rather than under this Vote.

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

As I understand the Vote, the £800 is in regard to the employment of men from the Mines Department at the Royal Commission

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

—and to that extent it is not on the next Vote.

8.0 P.M.

Photo of Mr Joseph Batey Mr Joseph Batey , Spennymoor

Yes, but I suppose the same argument will apply when we come to the Vote for the Coal Commission; it will be said that the expenditure is on account of the Mines Department. I agree with what has been said by hon. Members in regard to revising the catalogue of abandoned mines. I could wish that this revision had taken place years ago; as a matter of fact it should have taken place long before this. As soon as the Mines Department was set up it should have been one of its first duties. However, I am glad it has been done now; it is better late than never. But many lives would have been saved if it had been begun earlier. When the Secretary for Mines speaks of revising the catalogue of abandoned mines, I am only wondering what really the catalogue was like before this revision. I should like to know what mines are to be included in the catalogue; how far back you are going in the revision; and whether it is the intention of the Secretary for Mines to sweep the country in order to find out what mines have been abandoned or whether he is merely going to apply to colliery owners and royalty owners and ask them to give him the information. In the north of England there are mines that have been abandoned for 200 and 300 years, and I doubt whether any colliery owner could tell the Secretary for Mines much about them.

I notice also that travelling expenses are provided for officials of the Mines Department in connection with gathering this informaton. Are these officials to go only to colliery offices and the offices of royalty owners in order to get this information, or will they be able to go all over the country and get it where-ever they can? But having got that information, having revised your catalogue, then I agree with hon. Members in saying that it is no use keeping this revised catalogue in the office of the Mines Department. It is no use there; it might just as well never be obtained. We want that revised catalogue to be used in this way. We want the Secretary for Mines to be able to give information to any coal owners who are working a pit which is anywhere near an abandoned mine, as well as a sketch of the old abandoned workings, so that we shall not have a repetition of the disaster that occurred in Northumberland in the early pat of last year. This is a subject in which we all are deeply interested, and as we are naturally much more interested in our own district than in any other, I should like the right hon. Gentleman to tell me the number of abandoned mines he has been able to find in the county of Durham. Some of us have a fair knowledge of that county, and I am wondering whether he can inform us of the number of old abandoned mines that have been discovered in Durham, and whether he has been able to find any plans in connection with them.

I want to say a few words now on the item of £12,500 for accounting. The explanation is, "Employment of Firms of Accountants," and I should like the Secretary for Mines to tell us how many firms have been engaged, owing to the subsidy, in addition to his own staff at the Mines Department. I should have thought that the Secretary for Mines might engage a firm of accountants, but instead of doing that he has engaged "firms of accountants." How many firms have been engaged? This is rather a large item, but although it is large it will not carry the Department up to the end of the time which is considered to be the limit of the subsidy. I take it that this £12,500 will only carry the Department up to the end of March and then—

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

I must point out to the hon. Member that it cannot carry the Department beyond the end of March. It must be spent or surrendered by the end of March.

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

The Department could not, under the Exchequer and Audit Act, get money now that they are going to spend in April.

Photo of Mr Joseph Batey Mr Joseph Batey , Spennymoor

I am glad for once that the Chairman agrees with me, and I want to drive that lesson home to the Secretary for Mines. This Vote can only apply to the end of March, and after that we shall have another item for "firms of accountants." These firms of accountants have been employed by the Mines Department to check returns and figures; and that naturally raises some interesting questions in regard to these returns. When the Secretary for Mines was explaining this item, he said that although it was £12,500 in amount, they had saved more than that. I wonder whether he can tell us just how much money these firms of accountants have saved the Department. The impression I got was that the Secretary for Mines felt that the coalowners had been getting at him. He has not had the experience of coalowners that we have had for many long years; and we rather sympathise with him in his position. There are several questions I desire to put in relation to these returns. Do they chow a subsidy paid to men at the pithead when the pit is not working? Some of us feel a little sore on this point. We think the subsidy should not be paid to a single man employed at a colliery which is not working in order to keep it open. We have raised this matter again and again, and on one occasion the Secretary for Mines said that he did not think it was very important. Perhaps it is not, but there are some of us who would not give the coalowners a single brass farthing where the collieries are not working.

Notice taken that 40 Members were not present; Committee counted; and 40 Members being present

Photo of Mr Joseph Batey Mr Joseph Batey , Spennymoor

It is certain that we shall not discuss anything so important to-night as this present Vote or the Estimate dealing with the Coal Commission. Anything that affects mines at the present time is by far the most important matter that the Committee can deal with. I want to ask the Secretary for Mines four or five questions. I have already put to him a question with regard to the returns that are supplied by these "firms of accountants." Another question, to which I was referring when the "count" took place, is this: whether the returns show, separately, a subsidy paid to pits which are not working. I hope the Secretary for Mines will be able to tell us the number of pits to which this subsidy is being paid, and whether these returns show the profits made by the coalowners on by-products. Colliery companies, especially in the County of Durham, do not show the profit on by-products. I should like the Secretary for Mines to tell us whether these returns show the profit owners make on the by-products as well as losses they will make on coal. My third question is: do these returns reveal any deduction in directors' fees? We have got several colliery companies in the North of England which own several collieries. Sometimes they work a few of those collieries and leave others idle. I want to know what happens when they keep some collieries idle. Do they lose some of these directors' fees?

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

The hon. Member is now discussing a question of policy, and on this Supplementary Vote that is not in order.

Photo of Mr Joseph Batey Mr Joseph Batey , Spennymoor

I quite agree with you, Mr. Chairman. We have spent £12,500 upon Returns made by these accountants, and therefore I am anxious that we should get some useful information from them. We want Returns that will be useful not only during the time the subsidy is being paid, but Returns that will stand us in good stead for some years to come, and it is because I want this information that I am putting these questions. My next question is, do these Returns reveal the amount paid per ton at each colliery for royalties? Whilst it may be true that the amount paid for royalties in some collieries is 6d. per ton that amount varies, and I know one colliery where the men received notice because the royalty owner wanted to be paid 3s. per ton.

Photo of Mr George Lane-Fox Mr George Lane-Fox , Barkston Ash

On a point of Order, Mr. Chairman. I would like to draw you attention to the fact that the question of royalties cannot possibly come under this Vote.

Photo of Mr Joseph Batey Mr Joseph Batey , Spennymoor

I am not discussing royalties, and I am simply asking whether these returns show the amount paid per ton as royalties. My next question is do these returns show what really is included in costs other than wages. That is one of the items in our local departments that has bothered us terribly, because the coalowners can make that almost what they please. My last question is do these returns show the amount of coal sold for export, and the amount sold for domestic purposes, and especially the amount sold to the iron and steel industry. I would like the Secretary for Mines to answer those questions. In one of my questions I asked whether those returns showed the profits made on by-products, and if the Secretary for Mines will tell us that we shall be extremely glad because it is one of the things we have felt sore about for a long time. There is also in this Supplementary Estimate an item of £900 for the travelling expenses of the staff. I want the right hon. Gentleman to tell us just what travelling there has been, where it has been to, and whether the officials of the Mines Department anticipated compelling Members of Parliament to travel third-class—

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

The hon. Member must now realise that he is beyond the line.

Photo of Mr Joseph Batey Mr Joseph Batey , Spennymoor

I want the right hon. Gentleman to tell us as much as ever he can in regard to this item for travelling and incidental expenses, which may cover such a multitude of sins. I would like to discuss this item for the subsidy. We believe that this Supplementary Estimate would not have been necessary at all, so far as the subsidy is concerned, if it had not been for the failure of private enterprise.

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

With that remark I think the hon. Member expected that I should rise, and I do rise to say that he is quite out of order.

Photo of Mr George Hall Mr George Hall , Merthyr Tydfil Aberdare

I rise to ask the Secretary for Mines if he can give the Committee the necessary information as to how far the work of revision has proceeded in regard to abandoned mines, and whether all the districts are included in this work. The previous speaker referred to the number of abandoned mines in the county of Durham, but what he said applies to almost every coal-mining area in the whole country. I want to emphasise that once the catalogues are complete we should have them distributed throughout the various coal centres, and they ought not to be kept at the Mines Department in London. This is very important, because hundreds of lives have been lost because this catalogue has not been revised years ago.

Then I come to the question of the £12,500 paid to firms of accountants in connection with the question of subvention. We realise that the Treasury cannot spend, as it did during the last five months of last year, some £12,000,000 or 213,000,000 without having the returns sent in by the colliery companies checked by accountants, but I should like to ask the Secretary for Mines whether he is satisfied, seeing that there are in the country some 3,000 collieries, owned by some 1,500 different companies, that all the returns submitted by those companies are checked quite as they should be? I would like to ask whether any information is sought in the coal-mining areas as to whether any exceptional repair work is going on underground, or whether there is any installation of new machinery or plant that is included in the returns submitted by the various colliery companies when they are asking for this subvention that is paid to them from month to month? I should also like to ask whether the subvention is paid to collieries that are not producing coal. We have in South Wales, unfortunately, in common with most of the coal areas in the country, a number of collieries that have been closed for some two or three years, and we are not satisfied in our minds that the colliery companies who own those collieries are not participating in the amounts paid from time to time by the Treasury. I think the right hon. Gentleman should satisfy us this evening that these colliery companies are not paid any subvention in respect of mines that are closed.

Then I should like to come to the question whether moneys that have been over-paid to the colliery companies are refunded to the Treasury. -It is very interesting to note that in South Wales, during the month of December, just over £900,000 was paid in subvention, of which over £500,000 went to wages and £400,000 went to profits; and we had the very interesting disclosure that, while 2s. 7d. per ton went to wages, nearly 2s. per ton—about 1s. 11¾d.—went to profits. We understood that the subvention would only be paid, as far as profits were concerned, to the amount of 1s. 3d. per ton, but in South Wales, during December, there were owners who received profits—or, at least, the money was paid over equivalent to profits—of round about 2s. per ton. It would be very interesting to know how the accountants arrived at the amounts that were to be paid in South Wales during December, and, seeing that more than the 1s. 3d. in profits has been paid to various colliery owners, whether the accountants are going to set that amount off against the amount due for January, or whether the colliery companies are endeavouring to claim the difference between the 1s. 3d. and the 2s. that has been paid, in respect of losses in months prior to December. We would ask the Secretary for Mines to satisfy us on these points, because they are very important. We feel that almost all eyes in the mining industry are focussed upon the right hon. Gentleman and his Department, and, if he can satisfy us on some of the points that have been put to him this evening, it will clear away a great deal of misapprehension in connection with these questions.

Photo of Mr Robert Richardson Mr Robert Richardson , Houghton-le-Spring

I should like to put one or two questions to the Secretary for Mines. I am sure he will remember a question that I put to him some time ago, as to how much was paid in directors' fees. Now that he has the returns before him, I think that probably he will be able to give me an answer to that question, and I would put it to him now quite plainly: Does the Return which has been submitted to him for audit show bow much has been paid for directors' fees? I would like also to ask how that amount compares with the wages paid to the workers—have the directors suffered a reduction in their payments, as the miners have These are two very important questions which our people are asking every day, and I think that, if the right hon. Gentleman can answer them, he will help us very considerably. I am reminded that even Mr. Evan Williams, who, I believe, is a director of some 12 or 13 companies, refused to tell anyone what he got from each one of them. If the Secretary for Mines can tell us, it will not only be a satisfaction to the mining community, but it will be a greater satisfaction still to the taxpayer, who has to pay this Subvention.

Then may I ask one further question? Can the right hon. Gentleman, from the return, tell us how much is spent on the houses, gardens, and all that kind of paraphernalia of directors, agents and managers? Is there anything in the return in respect of this expenditure? Does the return state how much is spent on their houses, and how much is spent on the colliery houses in which the men live? All these things are taken into account in arriving at the costs other than wages referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey), and I think it is right that this Committee should have all these points before them, and should be able to see where money could be saved to the taxpayer under these headings. There are also such things as motor cars for running directors and managers about, and I should like to know if these appear in the returns that have been submitted to the Secretary for Mines. Indeed, there are many points that ought to be brought to the light of day under this heading, so that we may see as far as possible that the money is used in the way that was intended, and is not paid to other people who can well afford to do without it. These are very important questions to the mining community, and I should like to have an answer to them.

Photo of Mr Morgan Jones Mr Morgan Jones , Caerphilly

I regret that I was not here when the Secretary for Mines made his opening statement and, therefore, I may be repeating questions that have been asked before. It might be useful, however, to remind the right hon. Gentleman that repetition is necessary in order to get an answer from any Government Department. I should like to draw the attention of the Committee to Sub-heads A, B and EE. Under "Salaries, Wages and Allowances" there is a reference to the preparation of a revised catalogue of abandoned mines. I think it would be very useful to ascertain from the Secretary for Mines what is the official definition of an abandoned mine. A great deal of expense has been incurred in the Courts of the country in seeking to ascertain what is the correct legal definition, and, from the fact that the right hon. Gentleman has now a revised catalogue of abandoned mines, we have a right to assume that that means that at last we have a catalogue that is up to date, and includes every abandoned mine that can possibly be discovered anywhere in the country. I should also like to ask whether the catalogue is available for inspection by Members in the Library of the House, and, if not, whether the right hon. Gentleman will give an undertaking that a copy shall be placed at our disposal?

We have reason to believe that, while the Department has done everything within its power as a Department to discover every abandoned mine, there are still many abandoned mines that have not been scheduled in this catalogue, and, if that be so, even if there were only a few mines in each of the older coalfields that were not so scheduled, it is a matter of the utmost public importance for the safety of the miners that they should be discovered. There is no industrial country in the world which has such a black record with regard to the results of abandoned mines as Great Britain. We are, of course, the oldest mining community in the world, and, therefore, generations passed before the public conscience, and, certainly, before the conscience of this House was aroused to the dangers of abandoned mines. We wish to know whether any mines have been left out that should be included, and whether the Minister will give us his definition of an abandoned mine. Does it mean merely those coal mines out of which all the workable coal has been worked, and which obviously, therefore, have been abandoned because they are no longer workable; or does it include mines which have been abandoned by the colliery companies, possibly against the best public interests of the country, because they say that the seams are now too thin or too poor or too costly to work?

This House, as representing the interests of this country, has a wider interest than that in the mines. We cannot afford to allow valuable coal resources to be abandoned recklessly because a particular colliery company finds it does not yield them an adequate profit. Again, we want to know whether abandoned mines include such mines as have been abandoned by the company again because they have become waterlogged, and because the company, possibly in such cases through no fault of its own, is no longer able to work the mines at a profit, and does this catalogue reveal in such cases that the mines have become water-logged and been abandoned although there may be valuable coal seams still workable, simply because the colliery companies working adjacent workings have not done their duty in pumping the water out of their mines, and have allowed it to drift and gravitate to the deeper workings of such abandoned mines. Is the right hon. Gentleman going to take any steps to put a stop to that kind of thing, and will he reveal in his catalogue how many mines are now abandoned for such causes? Then does the Department sufficiently realise, and have they sufficient power to overcome the difficulty, that practically up to 20 or 30 years ago there were no proper records kept by the majority of colliery companies, with the result that it requires very great care indeed and very thorough research, and even inspection and boring by the Mines Department, if some abandoned mines are to be adequately recorded in this revised catalogue, and if the safety of the miners is to be adequately safeguarded? I think we are entitled to a very definite assurance from the right hon. Gentleman on this point.

Then I should like to draw attention to Vote E.E. with regard to the employment of firms of accountants and their duties in connection with the coal mining industry subvention. I wish to ask what are the powers of the accountants in examining the books of the colliery companies, and what test are they instructed to lay down as to whether a colliery company is or is not entitled to this subvention or subsidy. I am sure the Secretary for Mines is perfectly aware that while the estimate of coal royalties is something over £6,000,000 it is really more than that, and it is very important that the accountants should be very well informed on this fact, that during the last 20 years or so, especially the last 10 years, a large number of colliery companies have become the freeholders of the minerals and not merely the leaseholders. Many of them have bought the minerals outright from the original royalty owners. Are the accountants given power to ascertain which collieries—and there are many such in every coalfield in Great Britain—pay no royalties, and having discovered such collieries have they the power to ask the companies how they assess out of their total revenue what would be the equivalent to the royalty per ton? If a colliery company is not very carefully supervised in this particular there is a big temptation to put down in their books, for the purpose of balancing, a very excessive royalty on every ton that is sold, which would of course reduce their profit on the total commercial saleable coal and therefore would easily place them within the subvention, where if they were assessable to royalty on a fair basis their profit would correspondingly go up higher and they would not be able to claim any subvention at all. I am not prepared to trust the coal-owners any further than I can see them.

It is really very necessary that the accountants should not merely take the figures given them by the colliery companies. They ought to have the power to say, "This figure appears to be high. Do you seriously suggest that this is the royalty value of the coal you work?" The accountants ought to be in a position to say, "Before we accept your figures at their face value we are going to ascertain what are the royalties per ton paid by adjoining collieries, and if we discover that their royalties are substantially lower than yours we are going to consider it our duty as accountants in charge of the public purse not to allow a higher royalty value on your output than that of adjoining collieries working the same seam under the same conditions." Many of us are very suspicious that, unless the accountants are very capable and very determined in their investigations, large sums in this subvention are paid away unnecessarily in this way to colliery companies. I think we are entitled to know, that. I urge that the revised catalogue of abandoned mines that we are asked to vote for here shall not merely be in the pigeon holes of the Mines Department, but that a copy shall be available for inspection in the Library of the House. That is really necessary in the interests of the Government itself, which is so reckless in its expenditure of money in every direction. It is important because the number of abandoned mines is growing rapidly, and we know that a large number have been abandoned since the prosperous period following the War. Some have been abandoned, in our opinion, unnecessarily, and we want to know what is the opinion of the accountants on the financial side in such cases. There are many other mines which have been abandoned during the last 100 years or more in Durham, Northumberland, Lancashire, South Wales and all the older coalfields. The further back you go the more abandoned mines you get—abandoned merely because of the reckless greed of the coal owners of the period.

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

It is beyond the power of the accountants to say why the mine is abandoned.

Photo of Mr Morgan Jones Mr Morgan Jones , Caerphilly

With all due respect to your ruling, I submit that I know a little about mining, and I submit that these salaries, wages and allowances cannot be earned by any officers in the Mines Department unless they ascertain, as far as is humanly possible, every abandoned mine in the country, however far back it goes. The safety of the miners of to-day and to-morrow depends very largely, in these older coalfields, upon getting accurate plans and accurate records of every abandoned mine. We want to get that. We want a proper plan of the working area of every abandoned mine. We want a proper plan of the area of every abandoned mine that has been worked, showing what coal has been left in the workings. That is very necessary. Our coal resources are still the foundation of the future commercial prosperity of this country. Coal is our chief fuel. Although oil is competing with it more and more, it canot replace coal as the basic fuel for world power in this or in any other country. It is vital in the national interests that we should have a very accurate knowledge of our coal resources.

Unless we get accurate plans of the abandoned mines, where they are, when they were abandoned, why they were abandoned, and what is the condition of the area that has been abandoned it is impossible to know what our coal resources are, and it is impossible to take the necessary safeguards against future dangers. A new mine, which may be run on up-to-date lines, may be suddenly done out by inundations of water from an abandoned mine, and hundreds and, perhaps, thousands of miners may lose their lives because of the niggardly policy of the Mines Department in not making a proper investigation into how many mines are abandoned and their condition. What applies to water-logged mines applies to other mines which are hollowed out but not properly planned, which are full of gas, which are positive gasometers, and are to be found in every old coalfield. These old mines may be broken into any moment by miners working in new mines, the gas may come through the workings and suffocate the miners, or, perhaps, cause an explosion and kill hundreds of men at one stroke. This revised catalogue is much more important than may be supposed.

We regard it as the sheet-anchor for the safety of the mines in the future that this revised catalogue should be provided and that it should be as correct and scientific in its data as is humanly possible. I would not hesitate to spend much more than is shown in this Estimate to get a proper record in that direction. The Secretary for Mines has a big responsibility. If he wants to assure the mining population of this country that, as far as he is concerned and as far as his Department and the Government are concerned, that in the coming crisis in the coal industry they are going to have courage and not be browbeaten by any vested interests, either of royalty owners or of coalowners, he will give a revised catalogue worthy of any up-to-date scientific department.

Photo of Mr Frank Lee Mr Frank Lee , Derbyshire North Eastern

I should like to call attention to item "EE." which refers to accountants appointed by the Government. I would remind the Secretary for Mines that there are accountants who are not paid by the Government, but appointed by the Mining Association and the Miners' Federation in the various districts. In Command Paper 2550 issued by the Government, which deals with the period ending 30th September last, the Government gave figures which are different from the figures submitted by the accountants of the Mining Association and the accountants of the Miners' Federation. How is it that when we are dealing with the same period the figures are different? I am concerned more with the eastern area than with any other area. For the quarter ending September last, the accountants appointed by the Mining Association and the accountants appointed by the miners agree in their figures. They give the total output of coal as 21,000,000 tons for the quarter, while the Government returns show 20,000,000. There is a difference of 564,737 tons. When you come to the commercially disposed figure you get approximately the same figures. I wonder how the difference of 564,000 tons is arrived at.

In regard to prices, the Government figures give a figure of 15s. 11d. a ton for disposable coal, while the accountants of the Mining Association and the Miners' Federation give 14s. 5d. When you come to the shifts worked by the men, you get exactly the same figures. When you get the same shifts worked by the men and you get a varying amount of tonnage, I should like to know how the figures are arrived at. There is no industry in which more figures are supplied than the mining industry, and there are no figures which are so confusing. When you get different figures from a Government Department from the figures supplied by other accountants, it is enough to make the people outside the industry to feel suspicious, to say nothing about the people inside the industry. This document from the Government Department purports to be based upon the ascertainments of the accountants of the Mining Association and of the Miners' Federation. The document states that the figures are based upon the ascertainments of the joint auditors of the district boards instituted by the National Wages Agreement. If they are based upon those ascertainments, purporting to be dealing with the same collieries for the same period, how is it that they do not arrive at the same figures? I should be glad if the Secretary for Mines would give some explanation. This is by no means the only quarter in respect of which this statement can be made. Every quarter shows up in the same way. Somehow, they never can make the figures agree.

Photo of Sir William Jenkins Sir William Jenkins , Neath

I should like to draw attention to the collieries at Skewen, where the men have been idle for 16 months. A representative of the Mines Department has been down to make some inquiries, and the owner told him definitely that they were not going to re-open these mines until they knew what was going to be the result next May. I should like to know from the Secretary for Mines, because he has refused to give information by question, what is the amount of the subsidy that has been contributed to this colliery company. They have definitely kept over 2,000 men out of work. They are keeping the officials working, a few firemen and the managers, but no miners are allowed to work. Nevertheless, the Government are contributing, according to the information we have received, some of the subsidy money for these employers who are keeping collieries idle in that area. Why should that be done? It means that the Mines Department are not carrying out what was submitted to this House when they asked for a subsidy for the mining industry. Why should these men be kept idle while the Government continues a contribution to these owners? It is unfair and unreasonable.

Another question I wish to ask is, what method has the right hon. Gentleman adopted, in connection with the revised catalogue, in order to ascertain the checking of the surveys made at the various collieries? There may be some excuse with regard to mines that have been abandoned 60 or 80 years, but there is no excuse if you have no method of checking even the surveys that are made at the collieries now. Someone should be employed by the Mines Department to make an occasional check. The Department inspectors already have sufficient work to do, and are not able to make an investigation of all the mines, and to check all the plans. I would like to know what method the Department has for getting the information and checking the plans in the various coal mines.

Photo of Mr Thomas Griffiths Mr Thomas Griffiths , Pontypool

I also want to put a few questions. The Secretary for Mines will know the trying time through which the miners at Blaenavon have been passing. Mines have been closed down from three months to six months at a time. I believe that recently they started one or two out of the five mines. How does the subvention affect the mines that are idle? Whether the subject is within the category of this Vote I cannot say. The last speaker asked about the Skewen mines. I want some information about the mines in my constituency. I know the effect of the subvention on the steel trade in my constituency.

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

The hon. Member must know that that is a no-ball.

Photo of Mr Thomas Griffiths Mr Thomas Griffiths , Pontypool

I bow to the decision of the umpire. Perhaps the Minister will give me some information about the abandoned mines. I want to know whether they are abandoned altogether. I am told that they are practically derelict and on the edge of the mining area in my constituency. I cannot say that it would be encouraging for the men to know whether or not they have to leave the district, but it would be helpful for us to know whether there is any prospect of work for these men in the future. If that information were given to me, I should be able to explain things to those concerned the next time I go to my constituency.

Photo of Mr George Lane-Fox Mr George Lane-Fox , Barkston Ash

A great many questions have been raised, and I will do my best to answer them. The questions mostly group themselves around two subjects. I will deal, first, with that relating to the catalogue of abandoned mines. There is one misapprehension on this subject. It is really unnecessary for the hon. Member for Pontypridd (Mr. Mardy Jones) to shake his fist in my face, because I am doing the very thing that he apparently has never yet suggested to the House, though he now speaks of it as though he were the father of it. I am glad to have his approval, for I am certain that the work is well worth doing. Since the year 1872 there is no difficulty about a catalogue, because by Statute, in the case of all mines abandoned, plans have to be deposited with the Mines Department. I am trying to get hold of the old plans, going back as far as possible. Wherever there is the possibility of an old and abandoned working, I am trying to secure the plan or to get a copy of it, and so to have a complete catalogue to which we can refer. Several hon. Members have asked whether this catalogue will be made accessible to all. Of course, that is the object of making it; we want to make it as accessible as possible. We would welcome suggestions as to the best method of preparing the plans. When an hon. Member refers to it as a little booklet that could be carried round in the pocket and handed by him to his friends, it is plain that he hardly realises what it means.

Photo of Mr Morgan Jones Mr Morgan Jones , Caerphilly

I am sure that I did not use any such word as "booklet." If carried out properly the scheme will mean many volumes, and probably the largest series in this House.

9.0 P.M.

Photo of Mr George Lane-Fox Mr George Lane-Fox , Barkston Ash

The general view seemed to be that it might be a catalogue somewhat on the lines of a catalogue of books. Of course, it will be a very large thing indeed. There are many plans to be searched for, and when found they have to be examined. In some cases plans will be useless, and in other cases they will be inaccurate. All these considerations involve a great deal of work, and that is the chief justification for the Estimate now before the Committee.

Photo of Sir Charles Edwards Sir Charles Edwards , Bedwellty

Suppose that no plans are available, and yet you know that there have been old workings in an area. What steps, do you propose to take? Will you take evidence from old people in the district, as has been suggested?

Photo of Mr George Lane-Fox Mr George Lane-Fox , Barkston Ash

When there are no plans available you cannot put them into the catalogue, but any information that can be obtained will be put into the catalogue. Where there are no plans and there is reason to suspect old workings, there are certain, legal Regulations under the Statute by which certain borings have to be made in advance, and so on—it is quite possible that these Regulations may want alteration.

I have been asked a question about mines abandoned and as to the subvention. An hon. Member inquired whether the subvention is paid in the case of pits that are not working. There seems to be considerable misapprehension in the minds of a great many Members as to the working of the subvention. The question has been asked whether we have a return of directors' fees and royalties and so on. Those matters do not come in. They are matters under the ordinary ascertainment, which is still going on. The subvention is intended to bridge the gap between the scale of wages under the 1924 Agreement and the scale of wages which the owners proposed. You get two scales of wages and the subvention is to bridge the gap, to raise the owners' scale to the level of the men's scale. Our accountants have nothing whatever to do with royalties. The work of checking the colliery returns is, I believe, entirely, or very largely done by those in whom the men can trust, and it is important that these matters should be correctly ascertained. An hon. Member has asked that the investigations should be as complete as possible. Of course they are. We take every step to secure that end, and we employ men in whom the miners can have every confidence.

Photo of Mr Morgan Jones Mr Morgan Jones , Caerphilly

What instructions are given to the accountants?

Photo of Mr George Lane-Fox Mr George Lane-Fox , Barkston Ash

I can only tell the hon. Member that the accountants have instructions to check the returns which are being made by the collieries for the purposes of the subvention, and that the ordinary process of ascertainment is carried on in the same way as usual. In connection with the subvention, what is required to check the number of men for whom the subvention is claimed, and the difference between the two scales That involves a large amount of work. The number of undertakings is something like 1,500 or more, and there is a far larger number of individual pits. Therefore, the number of accounts to be checked is very large, and obviously a considerable expense is involved. Allusion has been made to an unguarded remark which I made, saying that we reckoned on saving a little more than we had spent and it has been suggested that in that remark I conveyed an imputation of dishonesty against the coalowners. I would be extremely sorry to think that I had conveyed any impression of that kind at all. What I meant was that in a matter of this kind where claims are made, it is very often a matter of considerable difficulty to assess those claims because they depend on a variety of intricate points, and the fact that we wish to check those claims does not in the least involve an imputation of dishonesty on anybody because there may be a clear and honest difference of opinion in a matter of the kind. It is, however, desirable to have the accurate figures as far as possible, and that, I think, is the justification for the Estimate. I believe it will be found that it will result in a saving. I am quite certain that hon. Members opposite would not wish us to accept the accounts of the colliery companies without any check or audit at all, and therefore I think this expenditure is quite justified.

The hope has also been expressed that we should allow the inspectors to have full knowledge of all the information which is collected about mines. That is, in fact, a part of the scheme—that in every district the inspectors should have full access to any information, and should do their best to give warning of any risks or dangers. A question was asked by the hon. Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker) and others as to collieries which are making a profit, and are receiving the subvention. That is a matter which has been discussed in this House, and it would seem from the questions that the object of the subvention is to some extent misunderstood. The idea was to leave the collieries in their various relations with each other. Some pits were doing well and some badly. If you had given a subsidy only to those which were doing badly, and which one might presume to be the less efficient and less well-managed — [HON. MEMBERS: "Not necessarily!"]—at any rate, the less successful pits—and if you thereby penalised the more successful pits, obviously, it would be very unfair. You would be making the competition of the unsuccessful against the successful more acute for the latter, and taking away from the latter an advantage to which thye are entitled. That would be unfair to the well-managed and successful undertakings.

Photo of Mr John Tinker Mr John Tinker , Leigh

I am not disputing the terms of the subvention. Can the right hon. and gallant Gentleman tell us the collieries which have been given this additional money and which were making profit?

Photo of Mr George Lane-Fox Mr George Lane-Fox , Barkston Ash

I cannot give the hon. Member at the moment the individual figures.

Photo of Mr John Tinker Mr John Tinker , Leigh

I think it necessary that we should have them.

Photo of Mr George Lane-Fox Mr George Lane-Fox , Barkston Ash

Before the period ends, no doubt we shall have them. At the moment there are undoubtedly some pits which are making a profit, and getting the subvention, but I do not see how it can be avoided.

Photo of Mr John Tinker Mr John Tinker , Leigh

I want to know the pits which are getting it, and are making an actual profit.

Photo of Mr George Lane-Fox Mr George Lane-Fox , Barkston Ash

I have not got that information at the moment.

Photo of Mr Thomas Greenall Mr Thomas Greenall , Farnworth

Will the Secretary for Mines try to get the information and give it to Parliament as soon as possible?

Photo of Mr George Lane-Fox Mr George Lane-Fox , Barkston Ash

It would certainly be very important before the subvention period ends that we should be able to ascertain those facts, but at the present moment they are not available. The Department has been very busy, and there has been a vast amount of work to do in the matter of checking the returns.

Photo of Mr John Tinker Mr John Tinker , Leigh

Has the right hon. and gallant Gentleman any cases of districts where they have been making more than 15d. per ton?

Photo of Mr George Lane-Fox Mr George Lane-Fox , Barkston Ash

I cannot at this moment, as I say, give details about the various districts. The hon. Member knows the process which is being carried on. I have not the figures actually by me as to how the various districts are working.

Photo of Mr Thomas Greenall Mr Thomas Greenall , Farnworth

Will the right hon. and gallant Gentleman get the information and find out what collieries are getting 1s. 3d. a ton, and what collieries are getting over or under that figure?

Photo of Mr George Lane-Fox Mr George Lane-Fox , Barkston Ash

That is really a matter of accountancy and checking the returns.

Photo of Mr Thomas Greenall Mr Thomas Greenall , Farnworth

Has the Department any system of getting the information?

Photo of Mr George Lane-Fox Mr George Lane-Fox , Barkston Ash

I have tried to explain that for the moment the subvention is paid to make up the difference between the two scales of wages according to the number of men employed. It is only later on when we come to consider the positions of the various undertakings that further information will be wanted. The hon. Member for Abertillery (Mr. Barker) asked a question as to how far back the information in regard to abandoned mine workings would go, and, as I have said, we shall go back as far as we can in getting that information. He also asked who was responsible for the fencing of shafts. I believe that the colliery is responsible in the first instance for fencing off the shafts. There is also a responsibility on the owner of the surface, but I do not think that point has anything to do with this Estimate. Those are the only questions I have down which have any reference to this Supplementary Estimate.

Photo of Mr George Barker Mr George Barker , Abertillery

I asked the right hon. Gentleman definitely with reference to three pits in Abertillery, the Tillery, the Gray, and the Vivian Collieries. These collieries have been closed about two years. Has the subsidy been paid to these collieries, are they on the list of the abandoned collieries, and has the right hon. Gentleman made any efforts to get them re-opened?

Photo of Mr George Lane-Fox Mr George Lane-Fox , Barkston Ash

The hon. Member did ask those questions, and I was coming to them. What happens about the subvention and the pits which are not working is that, as far as the safety men are employed, their wages are raised from the lower to the higher scale, exactly in the same way as the wages of all other men in the collieries, and I do not think it is in the interests of the hon. Members opposite to suggest that that ought not to be the case, because we want to keep as many pits as possible ready to be opened when they can be opened, and if you pay no subvention in the case of these safety men so that the pits can be kept in a workable condition, you are making it much more likely that they will be permanently closed down.

Photo of Sir William Jenkins Sir William Jenkins , Neath

What does the right hon. Gentleman mean by wages being raised from one scale to another?

Photo of Mr George Lane-Fox Mr George Lane-Fox , Barkston Ash

I mean that the subvention is used to raise the wages from the scale which the masters said was all they could pay to the scale of the 1924 agreement. That was the object of the subsidy.

Photo of Mr Robert Richardson Mr Robert Richardson , Houghton-le-Spring

The right hon. Gentleman said they were paying the subvention for the purpose of the owners keeping the pits ready for when the slump passes away, but is he not aware that there are collieries that the owners have arranged to start again, and that have not been kept open?

Photo of Mr George Lane-Fox Mr George Lane-Fox , Barkston Ash

Of course, you cannot make men keep pits open if they cannot be made to pay, but where they keep a number of safety men in the pit, you can secure that those men shall have their wages made up from the lower scale of the masters to the higher scale of the men. In regard to the abandoned pits, if those pits are permanently abandoned, their plans would have to be deposited in the Mines Department, and, therefore, they would not come into the question at all. If they are not permanently abandoned, they would be in charge of safety men, and pumping would be going on.

Photo of Mr George Barker Mr George Barker , Abertillery

Has the right hon. Gentleman made any effort to get these pits re-started—I mean the pits for which he is paying a portion of the subsidy?

Photo of Mr George Lane-Fox Mr George Lane-Fox , Barkston Ash

We always make efforts to get pits re-started, but that does not come into this Supplementary Estimate. We shall always make efforts and encourage pits to start again, but when it is stated by the owners that they cannot make them pay and that they are making a dead loss, it is not, of course, possible to insist on them being worked. I can assure hon. Members that there will never be a case of a pit stopping in which my Department will not do all that it can to secure a resumption of work. I think I have now answered most of the questions put to me.

Several HON. MEMBERS:

rose

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

I must point out that in Committee a Member is not confined to one speech, and, therefore, he can rise again if the explanation of the Minister is not satisfactory.

Photo of Mr George Lane-Fox Mr George Lane-Fox , Barkston Ash

There was a complaint made by the hon. Member for North East Derbyshire (Mr. Lee), who asked about a discrepancy in some figures. It is very difficult to throw figures about in this House, but if he will bring me the figures he has, I shall be glad to go into them. Very often when I have had discrepancies brought to my notice and have had them examined, it has been found that it was because like was not being compared with like.

Photo of Mr Frank Lee Mr Frank Lee , Derbyshire North Eastern

My point was that they were dealing with the same period.

Photo of Mr George Lane-Fox Mr George Lane-Fox , Barkston Ash

I understood that, and if the hon. Member will let me have the figures, we can go into them together.

Photo of Mr William Whiteley Mr William Whiteley , Blaydon

We have had some information from the right hon. Gentleman, but certainly he has not answered the important questions put to him. When the Government is asked to spend £12,500 on firms of accountants, at least this Committee ought to be in a position to secure information that has been obtained by those firms. We are anxious to know how much subvention is being paid to collieries that are partially idle—collieries where you have two or three seams idle and one seam working—and the seams that are idle are being kept in condition by the officials of the colliery, not by the workmen. The second point we want to know is how much subvention is being paid, as ascertained by these firms of accountants, to those collieries where there are actually no workmen employed at all, but simply the officials. We want to know whether the subvention is being paid on the wage lists of the officials as well as on the wage lists of the workmen.

The right hon. Gentleman did tell us that this subvention was an amount which was being paid between the 1924 wage agreement and the offer of the owners last year, and that the subvention was the difference between these two points. It is being said that the subvention is to assist wages, and it may be that it is helping wages considerably at some of the more uneconomical pits, but considering the pits that are paying large profits it appears that this subvention is being used to enhance profits. What we say is that these accountants ought to be revealing the facts first of all to the Secretary for Mines, and the Secretary for Mines to this House, so that we could tell the taxpayers of this country exactly how their money is being paid to the various collieries of this country. Those are the important questions that we want answered,, and we have not had a shred of information on these important matters from the Secretary for Mines.

The right hon. Gentleman said that this £12,500 was justified because these things needed checking. Of couse, they need checking. Then he went on to tell us that they had selected practically the same firms of accountants to do this work as were doing it on behalf of the Mining Associations in the various areas. If that is so, then that means that this £12,500 is less justified than we thought at first. If you had the same firms of accountants doing this particular kind of work who are already doing the same kind of work in the county districts for the mine-owners, then it will need very little checking. When you come to consider that, in addition to this £12,500, you have £2,102 paid for additional staffing in the Mines Department for doing similar work, we are entitled in the House of Commons to know just where the taxpayers' money is going. I am very sorry that the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman has been so meagre as to leave us absolutely in a fog in regard to this item. I hope he is going to give us information on these fundamental points, which it is essential that the people of this country should know something about, when they are paying the subvention.

Photo of Mr George Hardie Mr George Hardie , Glasgow Springburn

The question of efficiency and inefficiency is one that requires some explanation. The words "efficiency" or "inefficiency" are flung about on this question without very much relation to facts. When these words are used we want to know what is meant. To begin with, you can sink a shaft into a coalfield that is practically free from natural faults. That is nature's efficiency. When you sink another shaft in another district you may get coal troubled with faults.

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

I must point out that the hon. Member is not keeping to the subject of accountancy.

Photo of Mr George Hardie Mr George Hardie , Glasgow Springburn

I want to connect this up with the statements, made in my hearing and yours, in the last half-hour. The question was put to the Secretary for Mines as to what was the basis of the payment of the subvention. He was asked whether he could give the names of collieries that were paying a profit apart from the subsidy. The Secretary for Mines in his reply referred to inefficient collieries and efficient collieries, and what I am trying to do is to link up logically the two statements that have been given, in order to get some relation as to what is the basis upon which he says that a colliery is efficient or inefficient.

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

This is a question of accountants and their returns. Accountants cannot deal with the efficiency or the inefficiency of the working of a mine, and they cannot give such a report in their returns.

Photo of Mr George Hardie Mr George Hardie , Glasgow Springburn

In these accounts we have got a sum mentioned in connection with the accountancy in relation to the subsidy. That is clear. I think that in paying subsidy we have got to take into consideration the efficiency and the inefficiency of the mines. The Secretary for Mines just a few minutes ago pointed out how unfair it would be not to pay the subsidy, because it would mean inefficiency in other mines that were not so well managed. Does he take into consideration the natural inefficiency caused by the matters I have mentioned, in relation to the one or the other, that gives the natural condition? Unless these matters are taken into consideration, it is most unfair to say that where there are natural faults that that necessarily becomes an inefficient mine.

I would like to have a clear and definite answer that there is a basis in the Mines Department as to relating the payment of subsidies as between what they consider an inefficient mine and what is an efficient mine, and, where they take nature's conditions, to add to its efficiency, or subtract if it is inefficient. I was glad to hear the Secretary for Mines, after the Reading and Scotswood disasters, say that some steps are being taken to bring up to date the list of abandoned mines. The only list we have in this House is dated 1894, and it is a very meagre business. I hope this list of abandoned mines that they are going to work out will not be made out in the same slip-shod way as they did in building up the list of 1894. Have the Government given the Secretary for Mines powers to demand access, and to demand every landowner who claims to have coal to produce everything in relation to what is under his ground, and information as to what is the depth and, where you go beyond the days of plans, to have the books of all manor owners, landowners, looked into as far as you can, to see the payments for royalties; because where you have no plans, you have still got this method of looking at the payment in the books? We have still got some Domesday books, and you can by this means get somewhere about where these mines were working.

I want to come to the question of abandoned mines. Thousands of miners have been drowned by mistakes and lack of information on this matter. In relation to future working, I want to know whether the Department for Mines has considered this question. Instead of working from a rise downwards, and always having the mine above you being flooded with water, and always having danger to the men in the lower part of it, are you asking to-day, what science tells you you should have, namely, that your shaft should be sunk down to the deepest part, always work up to the highest part so that the water will always be in the lowest part? That will always eliminate the danger to the men. Has the Secretary for Mines got powers from the Government to tell all these landowners that for the safety of the men and the better scientific working of the pit, the landowners are not to be regarded as the determining factor as to where a mine is to be sunk? I want to know if we are going to learn at all from the tragedies of the past so as to have some guidance for the future.

I come to my last point. We have had in this House, in reply to questions in relation to water-logged mines, the statement that under certain pressures it is quite safe for men to continue work. I know of a Scottish mine—I will not give the name—where the men refused to go down the mine because of the danger of water, and it was given out to these men by the managers that they had ascertained that the pressure of water on the other side was such that there was absolutely no danger. However, what I want to know from the Mines Department is whether they are going to disregard that sort of safety so far as the men are concerned, because underground, especially in the area where this mine is situated—where mining has been going on—

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

This Vote concerns the question of abandoned mines.

Photo of Mr George Hardie Mr George Hardie , Glasgow Springburn

I am speaking now of the abandoned mines. I want to know whether the Mines Department are going to get away from the idea that when there is the pressure at one moment, it is going to stay at that. They have no guarantee. The water pressure may be changed in a quarter of an hour, in five minutes, or even one minute, and I want to ask the Secretary for Mines whether his Department have taken any steps, after the tragedies we have experienced recently, to prevent these things continuing.

Photo of Mr Morgan Jones Mr Morgan Jones , Caerphilly

I appreciate the fact that the Secretary for Mines in his reply has tried to answer most of our points, but I want to state that I personally, as a miners' Member in this House, as representing a large body of miners in my own constituency, and I think, speaking for the miners of the country, am very dissatisfied with the position, as disclosed by the last statement of the Secretary for Mines, that the instructions to the accountants, in checking what subvention shall or shall not be given to colliery companies, are similar to the instructions which the same body of accountants, who were employed in another capacity by the Mining Association in ascertaining wages for wage agreements in every coalfield of the country. In most cases they are the same persons. They are quite competent persons. We have no quarrel with that, but their instructions, apparently, did not go beyond what they got when employed to ascertain the capacity of the colliery companies to pay wages. I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that the method they adopt in checking the books of the companies are similar to the method adopted for the wage ascertainment. If that be so, I say it is insufficient for the purpose, because the Miners' Federation for many years have never been satisfied, even on joint auditing, that the accountants are in a position to give a true audit of the undertakings, and for the very simple reason that the coalowners of Great Britain have never yet in any wage agreement with the miners agreed to give the joint auditors complete power to inspect every book dealing with every item of cost in the colliery. Until the accountants are given that power, they cannot make a truthful audit of the capacity of the company to pay any wage increase or not.

The Government do, or should, represent in this House the interests of the taxpayers of the country, and they have not protected the interests of the taxpayers in the instructions they have given the accountants in checking the books of the colliery companies in this matter, because the accountants have not complete power to inspect the books to ascertain what is really the position of the colliery companies. Until they are able to do so, I am afraid there will be cases—the more you go into it, the more they will be disclosed—that companies do get the subsidy when they are really not entitled to it. Therefore, we protest against this slipshod method, this squandering of the public money. Further, I should like to point out that the Secretary for Mines has made no reply to my suggestion that he should place upon the Table of this House a copy of the instructions given to the accountants, and I still ask that it should be placed upon the Table. Then he has not answered my point, which, with all due respect, I consider a very important one, namely, that we have yet had no assurance that the accountants have power to demand of those colliery companies who are the owners of the minerals they work, and therefore pay no royalty to any particular landlord, or class of landlord, that they put in their cost of working a fair charge, the equivalent of the royalty paid for the coal worked where they pay royalties to landlords, and they are open to the temptation—and, knowing them as I do, I have no hesitation in saying I honestly believe that many of them fall to the temptation—of charging an excessive royalty on their working costs, because that increases their chance of a claim on the subsidy fund. Until we get a definite assurance from the department that the accountants have power to do that, I shall continue to be dissatisfied.

With regard to the disclosure of the Secretary for Mines that the revised catalogue is to refer to abandoned mines prior to the Mines' Act of 1872, the reason given for that, apparently, is that the right hon. Gentleman is satisfied, and his Department, apparently, is satisfied, that because an Act was passed in 1872 making it compulsory upon coalowners to produce plans of their collieries, that has been automatically and faithfully done by the colliery companies from 1872 up to date. If that is the opinion of the Secretary for Mines, he is welcome to it; it is not my opinion. I am absolutely certain that many colliery companies deliberately evaded, as far as they could, the Mines' Act of 1872, and for years afterwards. It was only when the inspectorate was enlarged, and competent and trustworthy men were put in the position to enforce these powers, that many of the colliery companies did give truthful plans of their workings. In the first year there was a very small inspectorate appointed for this purpose, and it is only within the last 10 or 15 years, since the Miners Federation has had some influence over Governments and created a public conscience in this matter, that the inspectorate has been large enough to see that this Act is being carried out in practice.

Therefore I suggest that there are still a good number of abandoned mines in the country which were first opened after the year 1872 of which there is no record in the past Schedule of 1894, nor, so far as we know, in any schedule that has latterly been composed. I do not know the reason for making 1872 the date. The Secretary has not made it clear that he realises the great national importance of getting a revised catalogue brought up-to-date so that, as far as humanly possible, every abandoned mine, whatever the cause of its abandonment, may be included. It appears that the money we are asked for for this purpose is included in the sum of £4,225 that we have under Sub-head A. There is no indication here in the report that as to what part of that money is to be devoted to the expenses of the preparation of the revised catalogue of abandoned mines. I wish to know how much of the sum is allocated for that specific purpose; how much of it will be devoted?

Photo of Mr Morgan Jones Mr Morgan Jones , Caerphilly

Do I understand that the sum so asked in this total for the purpose of the expenses of the preparation of a revised catalogue of abandoned mines amount to £1,400?

Photo of Mr Morgan Jones Mr Morgan Jones , Caerphilly

If that is so, all I have to say is that it is a mere bagatelle of the sum which ought to be voted annually by any Government for the specific purpose, because if you are going seriously to revise such a catalogue and include the whole there are thousands of abandoned mines, or mines reputed to be abandoned, in the country, many of which are within the local knowledge of the older inhabitants. If this is to be done—and the right hon. Gentleman appears to hope that it will be done—I would respectfully submit to him that he is not taking up his task seriously at all, because the sum of £1,400 is just like the monthly wages of an office boy compared with what is involved in the great commercial undertaking in which the office boy is employed.

Is the Secretary for Mines aware that during the Tudor dynasty, and throughout the reigns of the Tudor monarchs, various Acts of Parliament were passed by this House and another place, under which the inhabitants of London were prohibited from burning coal in any hearth? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that because of these various Acts which, were very drastically carried out by the various Tudor monarchs, that many mines were abandoned because of the serious problems of being unable to use the coal from Newcastle, South Wales, and so on? Is he further aware that many mines in Durham, Northumberland and other districts were abandoned because of the legislation of the Tudor dynasty? Is he aware that a further mandate issued by the Boy King Edward VI on 5th May,1551, affected 16 English and six Welsh counties?

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

I think the hon. Gentleman is hardly entitled to deal with mines in former days. He had better perhaps stick to the mines in subsequent times.

Photo of Mr James Maxton Mr James Maxton , Glasgow Bridgeton

On a point of Order. Are not the pits that were in existence during the Tudor dynasty to be included in the catalogue that is to be prepared?

Photo of Mr Morgan Jones Mr Morgan Jones , Caerphilly

I was putting to the Secretary for Mines, Captain FitzRoy, that the revised catalogue should contain, so far as his Department could ascertain, the abandoned mines known, or reputed to be abandoned, in each and every coal producing district in Great Britain. Therefore, my illustration, I suggest, is to the point, for it is vastly important that we should ascertain the particulars of every possible abandoned mine. I was simply illustrating my point by a reference to the Tudor period because it may have gone out of the knowledge of hon. Members, and for this reason, too, that during that period coal was being burnt increasingly in London. During the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries, because the Royal Palace of Westminster was so near then to the growing town of Westminster, and the smoke emitted in the burning of this coal became a nuisance to the Royal household, the monarchs of the time enacted that they should no longer suffer this nuisance.

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will leave his history, and come more to the point.

Photo of Mr Morgan Jones Mr Morgan Jones , Caerphilly

I would suggest the importance of these historical facts for the simple reason that although they may not be in the minds of many hon. Members of this House, the fact is well known through the bitter experience of some of us that there are abandoned mines in various of these districts adjacent to the mines which are working. Countless thousands of our miners have been sent to an untimely doom because them has been no accurate record of these abandoned mines. I do not raise this as a trivial point to waste the time of the Committee. I raise it as a serious point, and demand that the Mines Department shall give serious attention to the fact, and that we should know the abandoned mines in every one of the coalfields which are adjacent to new mines and which are a danger to the mining population in these developing areas. So I do submit this revised catalogue, if it is to be a proper catalogue, should include every possible abandoned mine that can be traced.

Therefore, we have the era of these centuries when the coal industry was being first developed. It is common knowledge, or it ought to be common knowledge, that in the older districts of Durham, Northumberland, South Wales, Lancashire and other parts of England coal mines have been developed in some parts in considerable measure over the past centuries. I would submit that their were mines abandoned in Northumberland and Durham because the seaborne coal that was brought from Newcastle and other ports on the north-east coast was no longer allowed to be burnt in London, or distributed for the benefit of the London consumers of coal. That is why I draw the attention to the matter. It is on the records of the House. There are numerous Acts of Parliament which have been passed from time to time from the Tudor dynasty onwards which, until the comparatively last few years, prohibited the use of coal in London. That did result definitely in the abandonment of mines which were no longer required because of the reduced amount of coal owing to the restricted legislation.

I come now to the period of the Industrial Revolution. During this period, from the latter part of the 18th century to practically the passing of the Act of 1872, the coalfields in Great Britain were very quickly developed and very widely developed—in England, South Wales; and also in Scotland.

Mr. GOODMAN ROBERTS:

On a point of Order. Is the hon. Gentleman in order in going into this historical survey?

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

I was waiting to hear what the hon. Member had to say. As I have told him, this historical retrospect as to the cause of the closing of the mines has nothing to do with this Vote.

Photo of Mr Morgan Jones Mr Morgan Jones , Caerphilly

In my humble grasp of the English language, I read this item in the Vote as expenditure on the preparation of a revised catalogue of abandoned mines.

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

I am perfectly aware of what is in the Vote, but the reason for the closing of the mines has nothing to do with this Vote. If the hon. Member confines himself to the number of mines closed, that will be quite sufficient for the argument.

Photo of Mr Morgan Jones Mr Morgan Jones , Caerphilly

I humbly submit that it is not sufficient for my argument, because the coalowners of Great Britain are indicted in this Vote, absolutely indicted. Countless thousands of our men have gone to an early doom because there has been no proper catalogue for many years, and because the old catalogue, which was prepared in 1894, is now admitted to be very meagre. Therefore, we have a right to ask that this money should be spent, even more money, in order to see that mines not recorded in the old catalogue shall be included in the new; and how are those mines to be included unless the Mines Department make a thorough investigation into where these abandoned mines are? In many cases no plans of these mines were ever prepared, and the only knowledge we have of these mines, abandoned 50 or 60 years ago, in many old coalfields is the knowledge of the miners who worked in them, or of their children who acquired their knowledge from conversation with their parents.

10.0 P.M.

I submit, therefore, that the question of this catalogue is a very wide one and that wide suggestions may be made to the Mines Department. I hope the Secretary for Mines will not hesitate to go to the Cabinet, and that when he comes before us next year it will not be for a mere bagatelle of £1,400. I hope a very much bigger sum will be put down for the purpose, because unless he is prepared to spend tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, upon this task he had better not begin it at all, for he will be throwing away public money. It would be a sheer waste of public money to tamper with this question; and to do it thoroughly the Secretary will have to go back to the periods of which I have been talking, to appoint a staff of skilled mining engineers and supply them with the necessary equipment, supply them with skilled draughtsmen to prepare the plans necessary, and make actual experiments in boring in many districts. [Laughter.] I can assure hon. Members opposite there will be more than one bore on this subject to-night. If I have bored a hole into the conscience, if there be one, of the Government as to the enormity of past neglect by mineowners and Governments, I shall have done my duty by my constituents.

The right hon. Gentleman and his Department have got to realise, efficient as I know the officials of the Department to be, that we shall expect them to get very busy about this business. I hope, too, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will agree that the money saved by the cuts he is going to make on the Army, the Navy and the Air Force shall be devoted to this revised catalogue, because it will require all his savings if it is to be brought up to date and to be of value. I ask the Secretary for Mines two specific questions. The first is, What powers has he given to his accountants, beyond the powers possessed by the accountants of the Miners' Federation, in the matter of wages ascertainment? Will he place on the Table of this House a copy of the instructions he has given to his accountants? Further, will he tell the House here and now if he has the knowledge, and, if not, will he get the knowledge as quickly as possible, whether the accountants have power to ask colliery companies who own the minerals of the collieries they are working, and therefore do not pay royalties, whether they put into their items of cost a fair sum as the royalty value? If the accountants believe when they scan the item for royalties that it appears to be excessive, have they power to compare the sum which the company have allotted as the equivalent of royalties with the royalties of adjoining collieries working the same seams under similar conditions? This is important, because we have reason to believe that some of the colliery companies would not hesitate to trade upon the accountants if the accountants have not the power and do not exercise it.

Photo of Mr Joseph Batey Mr Joseph Batey , Spennymoor

I beg to move to reduce the Vote by £100.

No vote before the Committee is so important as this. I was unable to be present to hear the major part of the reply of the Secretary for Mines. I am sorry, it was my misfortune, because I am certain that I would be ever so much better if I had heard that reply.

Photo of Mr Joseph Batey Mr Joseph Batey , Spennymoor

I cannot accept the statement of my colleague. I am certain I would have been ever so much better if I had heard the reply. When I did come back I asked my colleague. "What has the Secretary for Mines told you?" I had put a number of important questions to him, and I wanted an answer, though I was not able to stay to hear the answer. Seeing the Secretary for Mines did not answer the questions satisfactorily, I am moving this reduction. I do not want to take up much time of the Committee, but let me put again one or two questions which I would like him to answer.

Photo of Mr Dennis Herbert Mr Dennis Herbert , Watford

Will you stop to listen to the answer?

Photo of Mr Joseph Batey Mr Joseph Batey , Spennymoor

I am certain that the hon. Member opposite would not have said that if he had known that I have sat in this House from four o'clock this afternoon, and had nothing to eat until nine o'clock.

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

The hon. Member must promise that he will not ask the same questions again.

Photo of Mr Joseph Batey Mr Joseph Batey , Spennymoor

Oh no, I do not intend to do that. The most important question I want to put is this. I was under the impression, on reading this Estimate and the information given in the Vote, that this £12,500 for "firms of accountants" meant that two or three firms had been engaged by the Mines Department. Since then I have gleaned this fact, that there are no firms of accountants engaged at the Mines Department, and what this Vote means is that the right hon. Gentleman has simply said to accountants in the various districts who are acting with the Miners' Associations, "Send us in your Returns"; and for that we are paying this sum of £12,500. I think that is a correct interpretation of what the Mines Department has been doing, and it is altogether different to the impression I got when I read the explanation for this Vote.

If that is so, then £12,500 is far too much money to be paid to accountants for simply sending in what they have already got out for the miners' associations, and have been paid for. The Secretary for Mines has already said that these accountants have saved the Department far more than £12,500, and that rather suggests that they were preventing the coalowners from robbing the Mines Department. I should like the right hon. Gentleman to tell us how much more he believes the coalowners would have got out of the Department if these firms of accountants had not been engaged.

Then I want him to tell us something more about this revised catalogue of abandoned mines. If there had been nothing else but this question of abandoned mines to deal with, the Vote would have merited a discussion in this Committee not only for one night but for two or three nights. My hon. Friend the Member for Glamorgan (Mr. Hardy Jones) gave a rather wrong impression when speaking on this point, and I am sure he would desire me to correct it. He said that the expenditure in connection with this revised catalogue was £1,323. That is only part of the expenditure.

Photo of Mr Morgan Jones Mr Morgan Jones , Caerphilly

On a point of Order. Is it in Order for another hon. Member to correct a statement made by another hon. Member which is not incorrect?

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

I am not a judge as to the correctness of statements.

Photo of Mr Joseph Batey Mr Joseph Batey , Spennymoor

Whilst it is true that £1,323 has been spent on this revised catalogue, under Sub-bead "A," there is another item under Sub-head "B"—"Travelling and incidental expenses of staff engaged on investigations in connection with coal-mining industry subvention and upon the prepartion of the revised Catalogue of Abandoned Mines." That is the item under Sub-head "B," and I should like the right hon. Gentleman to tell us how much is spent under that head. There is a total amount of £900 for travelling and incidental expenses in connection with the subvention and also in connection with the revised calatogue. Will the right hon. Gentleman divide that £900 and say how much is due to travelling and incidental expenses in connection with the subvention and how much is due to the travelling and incidental expenses in connection with this revised catalogue of abandoned mines.

The question of these abandoned mines is one of the most important things we have to consider. If this catalogue had been revised long years ago many men who are now in heaven would be alive to-day. We regret that this revision did not take place years ago. I am sure I do not need to urge the importance of this proposal on the Secretary for Mines, for I believe he realises in his own heart how important it is, and I am not going to labour the point. What I want to know is this; what is he going to do with the revised catalogue? We have spent a good deal of money on this revision, and when the catalogue has been brought up to date we should very much like to know what he proposes to do with it. It may be that it is revised already, and in that case perhaps he will say how far the we has proceeded and whether there will be any more expenditure in connection with it.

We might have been told how many abandoned mines have been added to the catalogue and where they are. All the Members representing Durham are very anxious to know how many Durham abandoned mines have been added to the catalogue. When the catalogue is issued is it going to be put in the safe of the Mines Department or will a copy of it be put in the various districts so that the mine managers and the workers will be able to see it? I do not want to repeat the questions which I put earlier in the evening, but I understand that the Secretary for Mines never answered my previous questions, and I hope he will answer them now. This is a most important Supplementary Estimate, and we are taking advantage of it to-night to impress upon the Secretary for Mines the importance of this question.

Photo of Mr George Lane-Fox Mr George Lane-Fox , Barkston Ash

I have been asked whether I would agree to publish the instructions given to the accountants who are auditing the subvention returns, and my answer to that question is in the affirmative, and I shall be glad to publish the instructions. I have also been asked whether royalties were included in the operations of the accountants it calculating costs other than wages. As the hon. Member knows all questions of royalties always come into questions of costs other than wages. For my reply to the other questions put to me by the hon. Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey) I must refer him to the OFFICIAL REPORT, and there he will find those questions have been answered. With regard to the question put to me by the same hon. Member about the £12,500 that money is for the audit in connection with the coal-mining industry subvention, and that is a totally different matter to the audit for the ascertainment of wages.

Photo of Mr Morgan Jones Mr Morgan Jones , Caerphilly

I want to say, first of all, how grateful I am to the Secretary for Mines for having so readily agreed to publish the instructions given by him to the accountants with regard to checking the books of the colliery companies who claim the subvention. That is satisfactory, as far as it goes, and we accept it. I do not, however, quite understand his further assurance that on the question of royalties he gave a satisfactory answer. I understood him to say that the accountants are instructed to take note of the royalties paid by the collieries, as they do in the case of the instructions of the Miners' Federation when they carry out the audit for the purposes of wage ascertainment. That, too, I accept as far as it goes, but I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that what I asked goes further than the powers given to the joint auditors in the wage ascertainments as between the coal-owners and the Miners' Federation. The joint auditors have not the power, and do not seek, to get the information as to what are the royalties actually allotted for the coal produced in collieries where the minerals gotten are owned by the companies who work the mines. The Miners' Federation, for many years past, has demanded that the joint auditors should have that power, and the coalowners have always refused it.

My point was that, while the Miners' Federation may be charged with being a partisan body, in seeking to protect the interests of just one section of the community, when they sought to protect the wage interests of the miners, that charge cannot be laid against the Government. The Government on behalf of the taxpayers of this country, ought to exercise the power and the right which they have, to give the accountants the power to examine all the books of all the colliery companies who ask for the subvention, and the right to inspect every item of cost in those books. I say that, on the disclosure of the Secretary for Mines himself, the accountants have not that power and do not exercise it, and, so far as they have not that power, this Government is neglecting its duty to the taxpayers of the country, and is leaving the coalowners open to the temptation, of which many of them gladly avail themselves, to take advantage of any loophole there may be in this financial arrangement. I know them to my bitter cost. Coalownere are capable of doing that in every coalfield in this country. They are capable of robbing the miner of his hard-earned wages. I desire to press my point once more on the Secretary for Mines, and, unless he can give me the necessary assurance, I shall feel it my duty to go into the Division Lobby against this Vote.

Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman has not grasped the importance of the point. May I, therefore, illustrate it in another way? The coalowner's function is one thing, and the royalty owner's function is another. The royalty owner exacts a payment for every ton of mineral worked upon or underneath the land. In coal mining the royalty charge is a serious burden on the industry, not confined to the amount of the money recorded in the monthly returns of the Mines Department, which give something over £6,000,000 a year for royalty charges. The burden on the industry is much more. It is several times more than the money cost, owing to the hindrance which it places in the way of efficient working of the mines. A large number of the coalowners in every coalfield in Great Britain have for years past had a tendency more and more, not only to put their capital into the sinking and development of the mines to get coal to the surface, but they have discovered that it even pays them to buy out the royalty owners, and many colliery companies have acquired, and the tendency is for them to acquire more and more, the royalty rights or the freehold of the mineral takings.

These colliery companies collectively produce many millions of tons of coal out of the total of the year. At least 20 per cent. of the colliery companies own the minerals as well as the machinery of the mine, and they have to put in their books an estimate of the royalty which on its market value would be paid for the coal gotten per ton were they paying it to the landlords who originally owned the minerals. I am entitled to ask, not only on behalf of the miners but on behalf of the taxpayers, whether the colliery companies who own the minerals, and therefore do not pay any royalty to anyone else, put into their item of costs a fair valuation of the market value of the coal they produce. And the accountants, on the disclosure of the Secretary for Mines, have no power to test that. There is no means at their disposal at present to check the figures, and unless the figure appears on the face of it to be pence in the ton higher than the royalties in the neighbourhood, they cannot even ask a question as to whether this is a fair estimate of the royalty value of the coal.

I want to know why it is that the Government have not given power to the accountants, not merely to take down the figures the coalowners choose to put in as an item of cost. They ought to have the power to compare the royalties with those actually paid by adjoining collieries working the same seams under identical conditions of working costs, miners' customs, hours of work, rates of wages, minimum standard and countless other items which enter into wage agreements. It is only fair to the memory of Karl Marx to say that he went into the archives of the British Museum and discovered that there were such cases as I am citing even in his day. I have made this a personal study more or less. I know from my personal knowledge of a large number of such cases. I will give one illustration. A few years ago I was compiling a little book on mining royalties. I was then on very friendly terms with the late Mr. D. A. Thomas, afterwards Lord Rhondda.

Captain CROOKSHANK:

On a point of Order. In what way is the hon. Member's book related to the Supplementary Estimate?

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

The hon. Member is giving it as an example.

Photo of Mr Morgan Jones Mr Morgan Jones , Caerphilly

I got into touch with the late Lord Rhondda, who is admitted to have been, in his day, one of the greatest coal exporters in the country and a man who did a great deal, particularly in South Wales, to develop the mining industry.

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

The hon. Member must not extend his example.

Photo of Mr Morgan Jones Mr Morgan Jones , Caerphilly

The net result of our interview was this; I put the question, what was the tendency among coalowners as colliery companies, of which he himself was a chief director and promoter of amalgamations. He told me definitely—I have it in a letter in his own hand—that the tendency was for each amalgamation of colliery owners to buy out the royalty rights of the minerals which they were going to develop and exploit. Therefore, they had every inducement to become the owners of these concerns. That tendency has grown ever since, not only in South Wales but in every coalfield in England and Scotland that comes within the terms of this subvention. It is therefore, important that we should ascertain at first hand whether the colliery companies are making a true statement as to the equivalent royalty that might be paid. Every economist in the country is agreed that if accountants are given this important task of protecting the monies of the public of this country, they should have the power to compare the royalties of the colliery companies owning their own minerals with the royalties paid by adjoining colliery companies working the same seams under identical conditions.

Photo of Sir Basil Peto Sir Basil Peto , Barnstaple

On a point of Order. May I call attention to the Standing Order against repetition? The hon. Member is using exactly the same argument in the same terms, over and over again.

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

I am quite aware of the Standing Order.

Photo of Mr Morgan Jones Mr Morgan Jones , Caerphilly

Although many hon. Members opposite may not appreciate the significance of the point I am making, I feel sure that the Minister in charge does. I know from my personal knowledge of him that he is very anxious to smooth over the crisis in the mining industry. If you give the miners a legitimate or an apparently legitimate notion that the coal owners are in any way dodging in this business, and that they are actually getting in individual cases out of this subvention monies to which they are not entitled, you are not helping to smooth matters. Therefore, we wart a specific guarantee from the Government that no colliery company will get a single penny of the subvention unless they are entitled to it. How can the accountants check any item when they have not the power to inspect all the books? The accountants have not that power now. The Secretary for Mines has admitted that.

Photo of Mr Morgan Jones Mr Morgan Jones , Caerphilly

If the right hon. Gentleman can assure us from his personal knowledge that the accountants have the power and that he has given them instructions to exercise that power, no one will be more pleased than myself. But I have not yet had any assurance on that point. I am certain that he has not given such instructions and that it requires more courage than the Government have to give such instructions. The Government are too closely linked up with the coalowners to exercise their duties in this direction on behalf of the taxpayers. As a penultimate point I ask the Secretary for Mines to ascertain whether his Department are prepared to consider the matter. The Commission is about to issue its report, and I am sure that if the Mines Department care to do it, they have the power to instruct the accountants right away. Will they do so?

Will they face the vested interest on their side? Will they challenge the royalty interests held by the colliery companies? If they do, it is time they joined us on this side of the House.

Photo of Mr George Lane-Fox Mr George Lane-Fox , Barkston Ash

rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."

Question put, "That the Question be now put."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 238; Noes, 101.

Division No. 19.]AYES.[10.40 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-ColonelDean, Arthur WellesleyIliffe, Sir Edward M.
Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.Dixey, A. C.Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.
Albery, Irving JamesDixon, Captain Rt. Hon. HerbertJackson, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. F. S.
Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)Eden, Captain AnthonyJackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)
Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby)Edmondson, Major A. J.Jephcott, A. R.
Applin, Col. R. V. K.Elliot, Captain Walter E.Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.Elveden, ViscountKidd, J. (Linlithgow)
Ashmead-Bartlett, E.England, Colonel A.Kindersley, Major Guy M.
Atkinson, C.Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)King, Captain Henry Doug'as
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. StanleyEverard, W. LindsayKnox, Sir Alfred
Balfour, George (Hampstead)Fairfax, Captain J. G.Lamb, J. Q.
Balniel, LordFalle, Sir Bertram G.Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.
Barclay-Harvey, C. M.Fanshawe, Commander G. D.Little, Dr. E. Graham
Barnston, Major Sir HarryFermoy, LordLocker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'tn)
Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)Fielden, E. B.Loder, J. de V.
Berry, Sir GeorgeForestier-Walker, Sir L.Looker, Herbert William
Bethell, A.Forrest, W.Lord, Walter Greaves-
Betterton, Henry B.Foster, Sir Harry S.Lumley, L. R.
Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)Fraser, Captain IanMacAndrew, Charles Glen
Blades, Sir George RowlandFrece, Sir Walter deMacdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)
Blundell, F. N.Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus
Bourne, Captain Robert CroftGadie, Lieut.-Col. AnthonyMacIntyre, I.
Bowater, Sir T. VansittartGalbraith, J. F. W.McLean, Major A.
Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.Ganzoni, Sir JohnMacmillan Captain H.
Brass, Captain W.Gates, PercyMacnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm
Briggs, J. HaroldGault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew HamiltonMcNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John
Brittain, Sir HarryGee, Captain R.Macquisten, F. A.
Brocklebank, C. E. R.Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George AbrahamMacRobert, Alexander M.
Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir JohnMaitland, Sir Arthur L. Steel-
Gower, Sir RobertMakins, Brigadier-General E.
Broun-Lindsay, Major H.Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)Greene, W. P. CrawfordMarriott, Sir J. A. R.
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)Grotrian, H. BrentMerriman, F. B.
Burman, J. B.Gunston, Captain D. W.Meyer, Sir Frank
Butt, Sir AlfredHall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)Moles, Thomas
Cadogan, Major Hon. EdwardHanbury, C.Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)
Caine, Gordon HallHannon, Patrick Joseph HenryMoore, Sir Newton J.
Campbell, E. T.Harland, A.Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.
Cautley, Sir Henry S.Harrison, G. J. C.Moreing, Captain A. H.
Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth. S.)Hartington, Marquess ofMorrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)
Cazalet, Captain Victor A.Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)Nall, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Joseph
Charteris, Brigadier-General J.Haslam, Henry C.Nelson, Sir Frank
Churchman, Sir Arthur C.Hawke, John AnthonyNeville, R. J.
Clarry, Reginald GeorgeHenderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)
Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle)Nicholson, O. (Westminster)
Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.Henn, Sir Sydney H.Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert
Conway, Sir W. MartinHennessy, Major J. R. G.Nuttall, Ellis
Cope, Major WilliamHerbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)Oakley, T.
Couper, J. B.Herbert, S. (York, N. R., Scar. & Wh'by)O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)
Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islingtn. N.)Hills, Major John WalterO'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh
Craig, Ernest (Chester, Crewe)Hilton, CecilPennefather, Sir John
Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir HenryHogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)Penny, Frederick George
Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)Holt, Captain H. P.Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)
Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)Homan, C. W. J.Peto, Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)
Cunliffe, Sir Joseph HerbertHope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)
Dalziel, Sir DavisonHope, Sir Harry (Forfar)Phillpson, Mabel
Davidson, J. (Hertf'd, Hemel Hempst'd)Hopkins, J. W. W.Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton
Davies, Dr. VernonHopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)Price, Major C. W. M.
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)Ramsden, E.
Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)Hurst, Gerald B.Rawson, Sir Alfred Cooper
Reid, Capt. A. S. C. (Warrington)Spender Clay, Colonel H.Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)
Reid, D. D. (County Down)Sprot, Sir AlexanderWells, S. R.
Remer, J. R.Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Will'sden, E.)Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.
Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)Stanley, Lord (Fylde)White, Lieut.-Colonel G. Dalrymple
Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)
Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)Steel, Major Samuel StrangWilliams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)
Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)Storry-Deans, R.Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)
Rye, F. G.Streatfeild, Captain S. R.Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)
Salmon, Major I.Sueter, Bear-Admiral Murray FraserWinterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)Sugden, Sir WilfridWise, Sir Fredric
Sanders, Sir Robert A.Templeton, W. P.Womersley, W. J.
Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.Thom, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)Wood, B. C. (Somerset, Bridgwater)
Savery, S. S.Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)Wood, E. (Chester, Stalyb'ge & Hyde)
Shaw, R. G. (Yorks, W. R., Sowerby)Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.)
Sheffield, Sir BerkeleyTryon, Rt. Hon. George ClementWoodcock, Colonel H. C.
Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.Wragg, Herbert
Skelton, A. N.Waddington, R.Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.
Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)Wallace, Captain D. E.
Smith-Carington, Neville W.Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Smithers, WaldronWaterhouse, Captain CharlesCaptain Margesson and Captain
Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)Viscount Curzon.
NOES.
Ammon, Charles GeorgeHall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)Scrymgeour, E.
Attlee, Clement RichardHardie, George D.Scurr, John
Baker, WalterHarris, Percy A.Sexton, James
Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)Hastings, Sir PatrickShiels, Dr. Drummond
Barnes, A.Hayday, ArthurShort, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Barr, J.Henderson, T. (Glasgow)Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John
Batey, JosephHirst, G. H.Sinclair Major Sir A. (Caithness)
Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)Snell, Harry
Broad, F. A.Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)Stamford, T. W.
Bromfield, WilliamJohn, William (Rhondda, West)Stephen, Campbell
Bromley, J.Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)Sutton, J. E.
Buchanan, G.Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)Taylor, R. A.
Buxton, Rt. Hon. NoelKelly, W. T.Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro, W.)
Charleton, H. C.Lansbury, GeorgeTinker, John Joseph
Clowes, S.Livingstone, A. M.Townend, A. E.
Cluse, W. S.Lowth, T.Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.
Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)Viant, S. P.
Connolly, M.MacLaren, AndrewWallhead, Richard C.
Crawfurd, H. E.Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen
Dalton, HughMaxton, JamesWarne, G. H.
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)Watson, W. M. (Duntermilne)
Duncan, C.Naylor, T. E.Webb, Rt. Hon Sidney
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)Owen, Major G.Whiteley, W.
Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)Palin, John HenryWilliams, David (Swansea, East)
Fenby, T. D.Paling, W.Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Gillett, George M.Potts, John S.Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)Purcell, A. A.Windsor, Walter
Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)Riley, Ben
Groves, T.Ritson, J.TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Grundy, T. W.Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W. R., Elland)Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr.
Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)Rose, Frank H.Hayes.

Question put accordingly, "That a sum, not exceeding £16,657, be granted for the said Service."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 98; Noes, 246.

Division No. 20.]AYES.[10.49 p.m.
Ammon, Charles GeorgeCharleton, H. C.Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)
Attlee, Clement RichardClowes, S.Groves, T.
Baker, WalterCluse, W. S.Grundy, T. W.
Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)
Barnes, A.Compton, JosephHall, G. H. (Aberdare)
Barr, J.Connolly, M.Hardie, George D.
Batey, JosephCrawfurd, H. E.Harris, Percy A.
Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)Dalton, HughHastings, Sir Patrick
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)Hayday, Arthur
Broad, F. A.Duncan, C.Hayes, John Henry
Bromfield, WilliamFenby, T. D.Henderson, T. (Glasgow)
Bromley, J.Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.Hirst, G. H.
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)Gillett, George M.Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)
Buchanan, G.Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)
Buxton, Rt. Hon. NoelGreenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)
John, William (Rhondda, West)Riley, BenTinker, John Joseph
Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)Ritson, J.Townend, A. E.
Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W. R., Elland)Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.
Kelly, W. T.Rose, Frank H.Viant, S. P.
Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.Scrymgeour, E.Wallhead, Richard C.
Lansbury, GeorgeScurr, JohnWalsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen
MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)Sexton, JamesWatson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
MacLaren, AndrewShiels, Dr. DrummondWebb, Rt. Hon. Sidney
Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)Whiteley, W.
Maxton, JamesSimon, Rt. Hon. Sir JohnWilliams, David (Swansea, East)
Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Naylor, T. E.Smith, Rennie (Penistone)Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Palin, John HenrySnell, HarryWilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Paling, W.Stamford, T. W.Windsor, Walter
Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)Stephen, CampbellYoung, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)
Potts, John S.Sutton, J. E.TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Purcell, A. A.Taylor, R. A.Mr. Warne and Mr. Charles
Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro, W.)Edwards.
NOES.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-ColonelDixon, Captain Rt. Hon. HerbertInskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.
Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.Eden, Captain AnthonyJackson, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. F. S.
Albery, Irving JamesEdmondson, Major A. J.Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)
Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)Elliot, Captain Walter E.Jephcott, A. R.
Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby)Elveden, ViscountJones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)
Applin, Colonel R. V. K.England, Colonel A.Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)Kidd, J. (Linlithgow)
Ashmead-Bartlett, E.Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)Kindersley, Major G. M.
Atkinson, C.Everard, W. LindsayKing, Captain Henry Douglas
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. StanleyFairfax, Captain J. G.Knox, Sir Alfred
Balfour, George (Hampstead)Falle, Sir Bertram G.Lamb, J. Q.
Balniel, LordFanshawe, Commander G. D.Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.
Barclay-Harvey, C. M.Fermoy, LordLittle, Dr. E. Graham
Barnston, Major Sir HarryFielden, E. B.Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th)
Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)Forestier-Walker, Sir L.Loder, J. de V.
Berry, Sir GeorgeForrest, W.Looker, Herbert William
Sethell, A.Foster, Sir Harry S.Lord, Walter Greaves-
Betterton, Henry B.Fraser, Captain IanLumley, L. R.
Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)Frece, Sir Walter deMacAndrew, Charles Glen
Blades, Sir George RowlandFremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)
Blundell, F. N.Gadie, Lieut.-Col. AnthonyMacdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)
Bourne, Captain Robert CroftGalbraith, J. F. W.McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus
Bowater, Sir T. VansittartGanzoni, Sir JohnMacIntyre, I.
Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.Gates, PercyMcLean, Major A.
Brass, Captain W.Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew HamiltonMacmillan, Captain H.
Briggs, J. HaroldGee, Captain R.Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm
Britain, Sir HarryGibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George AbrahamMcNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John
Brocklebank, C. E. R.Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir JohnMacquisten, F. A.
Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.Goff, Sir ParkMacRobert, Alexander M.
Broun-Lindsay, Major H.Gower, Sir RobertMaitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.Makins, Brigadier-General E.
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)Greene, W. P. CrawfordManningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn
Burman, J. B.Grotrian, H. BrentMargesson, Captain D.
Butt, Sir AlfredGunston, Captain D. W.Marriott, Sir J. A. R.
Cadogan, Major Hon. EdwardHall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)Meller, R. J.
Caine, Gordon HallHanbury, C.Meyer, Sir Frank
Campbell, E. T.Hannon, Patrick Joseph HenryMoles, Thomas
Cautley, Sir Henry S.Harland, A.Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)
Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth. S.)Harrison, G. J. C.Moore, Sir Newton J.
Cazalet, Captain Victor A.Hartington, Marquess ofMoore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.
Charteris, Brigadier-General J.Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)Moreing, Captain A. H.
Churchman, Sir Arthur C.Haslam, Henry C.Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)
Clarry, Reginald GeorgeHawke, John AnthonyNall, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Joseph
Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)Nelson, Sir Frank
Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle)Neville, R. J.
Conway, Sir W. MartinHenn, Sir Sydney H.Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)
Cope, Major WilliamHennessy, Major J. R. G.Nicholson, O. (Westminster)
Couper, J. B.Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert
Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington, N)Herbert, S. (York, N. R., Scar. & Wh'by)Nuttall, Ellis
Craig, Capt. Rt. Hon. C. C. (Antrim)Hills, Major John WalterOakley, T.
Craig, Ernest (Chester, Crewe)Hilton, CecilO'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)
Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir HenryHogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh
Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)Holt, Captain H. P.Owen, Major G.
Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)Homan, C. W. J.Pennefather, Sir John
Cunliffe, Sir Joseph HerbertHope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)Penny, Frederick George
Dalziel, Sir DavisonHope, Sir Harry (Forfar)Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)
Davidson, J. (Hertf'd, Hemel Hempsf'd)Hopkins, J. W. W.Peto, Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)
Davies, Dr. VernonHopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)Howard, Captain Hon. DonaldPhilipson, Mabel
Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton
Dean, Arthur WellesleyHurst, Gerald B.Price, Major C. W. M.
Dixey, A. C.Iliffe, Sir Edward M.Ramsden, E.
Rawson, Sir Alfred CooperSmithers, WaldronWatson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)
Reid, Captain A. S. C. (Warrington)Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)
Reid, D. D. (County Down)Spender Clay, Colonel H.Wells, S. R.
Remer, J. R.Sprot, Sir AlexanderWheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.
Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Will'sden, E.)White, Lieut.-Colonel G. Dalrymple
Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)
Roberts, Samuel (Hereford Hereford)Steel, Major Samuel StrangWilliams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)
Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)Storry-Deans, R.Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)
Rye, F. G.Streatfeild, Captain S. R.Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)
Salmon, Major I.Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray FraserWinterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)Sugden, Sir WilfridWise, Sir Fredric
Sanders, Sir Robert A.Templeton, W. P.Womersley, W. J.
Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.Thom, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)Wood, B. C. (Somerset, Bridgwater)
Savery, S. S.Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, S.)Wood, E. (Chest'r. Stalyb'dge & Hyde)
Shaw, R. G. (Yorks, W. R., Sowerby)Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.)
Sheffield, Sir BerkeleyTryon, Rt. Hon. George ClementWoodcock, Colonel H. C.
Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.Wragg, Herbert
Skelton, A. N.Waddington, R.Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.
Slaney, Major P. KenyonWallace, Captain D. E.
Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Smith-Carington, Neville W.Waterhouse, Captain CharlesCaptain Viscount Curzon and Lord
Stanley.

Original Question put accordingly, and agreed to.

Photo of Mr George Lane-Fox Mr George Lane-Fox , Barkston Ash

claimed, "That the Original Question be now put."