Oral Answers to Questions — Coal Industry (Responsibility for Discipline)

– in the House of Commons on 9th September 1942.

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Photo of Sir John Mellor Sir John Mellor , Tamworth

asked the Prime Minister whether, in order to get rid of the existing division of responsibility for discipline in the coal industry, he will take steps to transfer to the Minister of Fuel and Power the authority now vested in the Minister of Labour?

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Stepney Limehouse

No, Sir. The Minister of Fuel and Power will be responsible under the terms of the amended Essential Work (Coal Mining Industry) Order for the investigation of complaints about indiscipline in the coal mining industry, but responsibility for taking legal proceedings in respect of the acts of indiscipline set out in the Order, should, in my opinion, continue to rest with the Minister of Labour and National Service.

Photo of Sir John Mellor Sir John Mellor , Tamworth

In view of the disappointing production and of the reluctance of the Minister of Labour to exercise his authority, would not unified control in the hands of the other Minister be worth trying?

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Stepney Limehouse

I cannot accept the assumptions in my hon. Friend's Supplementary Question. For two years action has been taken under Defence Regulation 58A by the Minister of Labour. I see no reason for any alteration.

Photo of Sir John Mellor Sir John Mellor , Tamworth

Will my right hon. Friend ask the Prime Minister to give his personal attention to the very serious position in the coal industry?

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Stepney Limehouse

My right hon. Friend is well aware of it and is giving it his constant attention.

Photo of Mr Rhys Davies Mr Rhys Davies , Westhoughton

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that the more Ministers have tried to discipline the miners by fining and imprisoning them, the more the production of coal has declined proportionately?

Photo of Mr George Griffiths Mr George Griffiths , Hemsworth

Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that if there is less pin-pricking here, there will be more production?