asked the Minister of Fuel and Power (1) whether he will give an estimate of the percentage of coal converted into slack in the course of unloading and stacking at the Solihull reserve dump;
(2) what inquiries his representative made in the Solihull district with a view to obtaining the services of a coal merchant to unload and stack coal at the Solihull reserve dump before engaging the contractor who was, until the beginning of September, employed for that purpose?
Major Lloyd George:
It is not possible to give a reliable estimate of the percentage of slack, in the emergency stock of coal at Solihull. Whilst it is recognised in the coal trade that in unloading coal from railway wagons and stacking it, a certain amount of breakage is unavoidable, I am satisfied that in the case of the reserve stock in Solihull, no abnormal breakage of coal has occurred. I have nothing to add to the reply which I gave to my hon. Friend on 8th September concerning the inquiries made in the Solihull district before a contractor was appointed to unload and stack coal consigned to the reserve dump.
As the local merchants have completed unloading at this dump and are now unloading at two other dumps without damage to coal or wagons, and are doing so at the Ministry's own price, will my right hon. and gallant Friend say why this arrangement could not have been made in the first instance?