Coal Supplies

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12th December 1950.

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Photo of Mr Edgar Granville Mr Edgar Granville , Eye 12:00 am, 12th December 1950

The hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Mr. Hubbard) has just delivered an eloquent speech. He speaks with a great deal of experience and knowledge, and I am sure he found an answering echo in all parts of the House. There can be no question but that the hon. Gentleman has fully recovered from his indisposition, and I am sure we are all glad to sec him in his place and hear him speak on a subject on which he has such great knowledge.

This is the third debate we have had on this subject since the election this year. On the first occasion, in March, there was a Division; in July there was no Division; and I do not think that the Minister can complain at the tone and temper of the speeches made in this debate. I missed the contribution of the right hon. Member for Bournemouth, East, and Christchurch (Mr. Bracken), who always enlivens these discussions, and I am sure we all wish him a speedy recovery.

I thought that the right hon. Member for Southport (Mr. R. S. Hudson) made a serious case, which must be fully answered by the Government. At the same time, my view is that we are, and must be, debating this problem today in something of a vacuum, because in the present economic position of the country it is impossible to debate coal alone and to forget everything else. A great deal will depend on the statement The Prime Minister is to make on the fundamental problem, which becomes increasingly difficult every week, of the world supply of raw materials, and also the question of armament production in this country, which was referred to by the hon. Member for Liverpool, Garston (Mr. Raikes). I believe that we are within sight of a system of urgent priorities for the supply of raw materials and manpower for the capital investment programme, certainly in the coal industry. If that is so, it seems to me that this Motion is, as the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy said, an academic Motion.

I was not sure whether the right hon. Member for Southport was making a case under the heading set forth by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in March, in the debate on the Gracious Speech, of no factious or fractious opposition. In any event, this is not the occasion on which to divide the House of Commons on a Motion of this sort, and so far as all the Liberal Party is concerned, it is our intention to abstain. We think that is rather more important today in the present financial situation and in the economic crisis with which this country is to be faced, than to turn the House of Commons into an annexe of the Tory Central Office for electioneering purposes.