Three-Day Working Week

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 10th January 1974.

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Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester 12:00 am, 10th January 1974

It is interesting that every figure which has been published exposes the utter faliacy of the argument of Labour Members. The result of the ineffective and inaccurate exercise of the right hon. Member for Bristol, South-East on the coal stock figures was that when the figures were published in detail, giving the comparisons year by year, every commentator except the Morning Star accepted that the right hon. Gentleman was wrong. He has created a unique position. He is the one man on the Labour side of British politics who has recently had all his arguments rejected by the Daily Mirror and approved by the Morning Star. Perhaps that indicates the degree to which every word he has uttered has encouraged the extremists in the National Union of Mineworkers. In that sphere he has done immense damage.

The right hon. Gentleman quoted me as saying that coal was a major problem regarding the three-day week. The majority of the fuel which power stations must burn is coal. The steel industry is 85 per cent. dependent on coking coal. These are the factors that bring about the unfortunate necessity of a three-day week.

The imports of crude oil for January and February are expected to be about 8 per cent. and 5 per cent. lower than would have been anticipated had there not been an oil crisis. Industry showed quite clearly, with the imposition of overall cuts of 10 per cent. compared with last year's figures, that it was able to cope with the situation and to keep up production to a high level.