Coal Situation

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons on 1st October 1942.

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If people are to be prevented from shivering in their homes this winter, something very serious will have to be done. The coal is still there, the equipment is there, and the men are there. The miners especially are people who never shirk employment, despite what the coalowners or managers may say. My chief complaint about them is that, they are always prepared to work too hard and to do too much. It is well known in mining districts that the tendency of men, if they are put on a ton rate, on piece rates, is to trample over the top of each other to get coal away from the coalface. If that is so, there should be no scarcity. The 30,000,000 tons of coal required should be obtained quite easily. One hon. Member talked about Russia and about what would happen in Russia. Drastic things have to happen in Russia because Russia has lost over 60 per cent. of her coal output, and drastic things are being done in an attempt to make up that loss. Not a single pit has been lost in this country, there is no invasion here, no enemy trampling over our coalfields, but the output has gone down to such an extent that the position has become tragic and serious. I suppose the Minister will come to Scotland in the near future. I hope that in his peregrinations round the collieries he will see to it that the management work the pits not in the interests of the coalowners or in the interests of profit, but in the interests of securing every ounce of coal that can be brought out of the pits during this period of war.