§ 10. Mr. SPENCER
asked the Secretary for Mines whether he is aware that a number of mines in South-west Lancashire are threatened with flooding due to the accumulation of water in workings in the Westhoughton area; whether his Department will take steps to deal with the menace by means of a central mines drainage committee or, alternatively, if any other action will be taken by his Department or by the Coal Mines Reorganisation Commission?
§ The SECRETARY for MINES (Mr. Ernest Brown)
The answer to the first part of the question is, Yes. With regard to the second part, such powers as I possess, by virtue of Section 18 of the Mining Industry Act, 1920, are in practice dependent upon agreement on the part of a substantial majority of the coalowners concerned. I have been in close touch with the position in the Westhoughton area for some time, but I understand that no such measure of agreement is obtainable there at present. The water problem in that particular area, however, only forms part of a problem which affects, or may in course of time affect, a much wider area, and it would be better if it could be dealt with as a whole. I am, therefore, inviting the coalowners to consider the question from that point of view, and if I can help in any way, I will certainly do so.
§ Mr. RHYS DAVIES
While thanking the Minister for what he is trying to do in this connection, may I ask whether he will be good enough to use the great influence of his Department to try to get a settlement of this very terrible problem; and is he aware that a whole area of several miles of the Lancashire coalfield is threatened by this water?
§ Mr. TINKER
Is it possible for the hon. Gentleman to put his foot down, and to get more effective action?
§ 11. Mr. PEAT (for Mr. MARTIN)
asked the Secertary for Mines whether he can give any information concerning a memorandum which has been submitted to the Coal Mines Re-organisation Commission for a scheme to drain the flooded pits in the South-West Durham area and win the coal for the specific purpose of submitting it to a process of hydrogenation with a view to supplying the defence forces with home-produced oil?
§ Mr. E. BROWN
I have seen a copy of the memorandum in question, which makes some general proposals for dealing with mine water in the Durham coalfield, including a proposal for a preliminary engineering survey of the whole problem. My hon. Friend will not expect me, within the limits of question and answer, to go into the many and complicated questions which arise in connection with a problem of this magnitude, but clearly the matter is one which must be considered, in the first instance at any rate, by the Durham coalowners as a whole. I am asking for their views upon the memorandum and upon the drainage problem generally, and I am offering to assist in any way I can.