Is it not a pity that the information is not available? Is it not a fact that with less overtime and no weekend work there has been a big reduction in wages? Should not the Government do something to bring down the cost of living in view of the fact that wages are now considerably reduced?
I am sorry to argue with the hon. Member, who knows so much about these things. The statistics are provided in terms of shifts, and I gather that there is no common factor whereby one can convert shifts into hours of work.
Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that hours of work underground are determined by Act of Parliament and that his Ministry is responsible for the Act being observed? Is no return made to his Department of overtime worked above the statutory hours? Could the right hon. Gentleman not supply the figures?
The question asked about the average number of hours worked underground. I appreciate that the matter of hours worked on the surface is quite different, but underground hours are governed by Act of Parliament, for which the right hon. Gentleman's Department is responsible, and that is why I asked him for the figures.
The available statistics for which the question asked are kept in terms of shifts and not of hours. I will bear in mind what the right hon. Gentleman says, but I think that we can do no better than we have done.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a shift in the coalmining industry means a precise number of hours worked as defined by Act of Parliament? If the right hon. Gentleman gets information about the number of shifts he can clearly answer a question about the number of hours. Are we to understand that his Department does not receive from the Coal Board a report on the number of hours of overtime worked in the coal mines beyond the statutory number?
I made precisely the same inquiry as the right hon. Gentleman now mentions and I was surprised that the information was not available. I am told that no suitable multiplier can be applied to shift work as the length of shift can differ from area to area, and also some tasks are done in stints and when a stint is done miners may leave the pit although the actual shift has not been fulfilled. One has not, therefore, information about hours worked. If hon. Members want answers to these other questions, perhaps they will put them down and I shall be happy to answer them.