East Kent Coalfield (Strikes).

Oral Answers to Questions — National War Effort. – in the House of Commons on 22nd January 1942.

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Photo of Mr Oliver Simmonds Mr Oliver Simmonds , Birmingham Duddeston

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is, aware of the public concern at the loss of coal production caused by strikes in the East Kent coalfield; and whether, in the national interest, he has made, or proposes to make, the powers conferred upon him by the Essential Work Order applicable to the coal-mining industry?

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

Undertakings in the coal-mining industry are, with few exceptions, scheduled under the Essential Work Order applicable to that industry. I ought to point out, however, that the provisions with regard to the illegality of strikes and lock-outs are contained in the Conditions of Employment and National Arbitration Order, which is of general application, and not in the Essential Work Orders.

Photo of Mr Oliver Simmonds Mr Oliver Simmonds , Birmingham Duddeston

Can my right hon. Friend assure the House that in the case of these unfortunate strikes it is his policy to take action himself and not to throw that responsibility on the employers?

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

I have not thrown anything on the employers, and I would suggest that employers should not try to anticipate my action.

Photo of Mr William Thorne Mr William Thorne , West Ham Plaistow

Can the Minister say whether these men are members of the Miners' Federation and whether the executive of that Federation has made any effort to get a settlement?

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

I cannot enter into the merits or demerits of a dispute which is now sub judice.

Photo of Mr William Gallacher Mr William Gallacher , Fife Western

Should not the Minister put some employers in gaol as an example?