As I stated in my reply to the hon. Member for Farnworth (Mr. Rowson) on the 16th February last, the question of negotiations for an international agreement now rests with the coal owners. I had hoped that by this time more definite progress would have been made, and I am disappointed that this is not the case. I appreciate, however, as no doubt the right hon. Member will appreciate, that the British coal owners have been much pre-occupied in recent months with other matters. I have done and shall continue to do all in my power to encourage international agreement, and I am advised that the coal owners now have this question again under active consideration.
Does the hon. Gentleman not agree that there is not the slightest use in getting an agreement about coal, unless you also get an agreement with the people who produce fuel oil, which is rapidly superseding coal?
I cannot agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman in that opinion. I believe that there is an excellent opportunity for concluding such an agreement which may help the coal industry.