Fuel Emergency

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 26th February 1947.

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Photo of Mr Robert Hudson Mr Robert Hudson , Southport 12:00 am, 26th February 1947

I could not agree with the hon. Lady more. [Interruption.] Perhaps hon. Members will wait just one minute because it is only delaying the Minister of Fuel and Power. I give the hon. Lady the' point about absenteeism. I am only taking the Government's own figures. The hon. Lady gave a most striking account of what had happened in her own area of the Midlands and Cannock Chase. She said, and I am prepared to take her word for it, that the way those men were handled last week about the Sunday was thoroughly stupid to say the least of it, and that a potential willingness to work, an anxiety to work, a readiness' to do their best to meet this national crisis, was nipped in the bud and converted into a sullen sense of grievance. I am quite prepared to believe that possible, and I venture to suggest from these benches that the great mistake the Government is making today, the great mistake it made in the White Paper and I believe I am backed up by what the hon. Member for Cannock said—is that they have set the target too low. I recollect that during the war, when I was trying to get food for this country from the farmers, I did not go about saying, "I am going to give you more money for your wheat." That was not the incentive I held out. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] No, I said they would get a reasonable price.

The miners today are getting a far better wage than they ever got before. What I said to the farmers was, "Here is the target. You all believe it is a target far higher than you can possibly attain, but it is needed in the national interest". What was the result? They beat that target. I believe that if the miners of this country were approached in that spirit, now that they have got what they allege they want politically in the shape of nationalisation, it is probable that they would provide the fuel that we need. I believe that the fact that appeal has not been made is the real condemnation of the present Government.