§ 29. Mr. MARTIN
asked the Secretary for Mines the tonnage of coal exported from this country during the last nine months as a result of new business coming to British exporters due to our leaving the Gold Standard or any other causes?
§ Mr. ISAAC FOOT
The increase in the export trade which coal producers hoped would result from the departure from the Gold Standard does not appear to have materialised, partly on account of import restrictions imposed by consuming countries to meet decreased consumption, partly on account of exchange restrictions and partly because our competitors have reduced prices to meet the depreciation of sterling. There has been an increase in exports to some of the smaller markets but exactly how much of this is due to the cause suggested by my hon. Friend, and how much to other causes cannot be stated.
§ 30. Mr. MARTIN
asked the Secretary for Mines the loss in tonnage to the British coal trade during the last two quarters of 1931 and the first quarter of 1932, based on the average quarterly shipments due to discriminatory restrictions placed on imports of British coal by foreign Governments; and how far the statistics of his Department show that the recent increase in unemployment in the coalfields is due to discriminatory action against British coal?
§ Mr. FOOT
My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade has 989 already informed the House that the restrictions placed upon the importation of British coal by Germany are regarded as directly discriminatory. These restrictions date from the 1st October, 1931. As compared with the corresponding quarters of the previous year, the loss in tonnage of coal exports to Germany has been 231,000 tons for the last quarter of 1931 and 96,000 tons for the first quarter of 1932, but it is impossible to say how much of this loss or the unemployment arising there from should be attributed to the discriminatory restrictions and how much to general trade depression.
§ Mr. MARTIN
Can the hon. Gentleman tell us if any progress is being made now in the representations made to Germany on this matter?
§ Mr. LAWSON
Are the Government aware that this question is becoming more acute every day, and that there will soon be no export trade in the North if something is not done?
§ Sir NICHOLAS GRATTAN-DOYLE
Why are these negotiations so protracted? What are the difficulties in the way?
§ 31. Mr. PARKINSON
asked the Secretary for Mines on what basis the export from Newcastle-on-Tyne of 38,000 tons of Northumberland steam coal for the Finnish State railways in exchange for timber will be arranged; and whether both timber and coal will be transported in British ships?
§ Mr. FOOT
I am advised that the timber is being purchased through ordinary trade channels by a firm of coal-owners and exporters who will in turn supply the Finnish State railways with Northumberland coal. The transactions are on a cash basis throughout. I understand that no stipulation has been made as to the nationality of the ships to be used.