§ 63. Mr. Rhys Davies
asked the Minister of Fuel and Power the tonnage of coal lost as the result of the recent sympathetic strikes resulting from the imprisonment of 20 men in the Tareni and surrounding pits in South Wales, and similar statistics covering the whole of the coalfields since the outbreak of hostilities; and whether, in view of the loss of production on this score, he has now considered the recommendations of the Select Committee on National Expenditure that some other means should be devised of dealing with offences that were not punishable in law before the outbreak of war than court proceedings, fines and imprisonment?
Major Lloyd George
The total estimated tonnage lost at Tareni Colliery and at other pits in South Wales from which men withdrew their labour in sympathy is 15,280 tons in the two weeks ended 26th June, 1943. Figures of output lost through sympathetic stoppages covering the whole of the coalfields since the outbreak of hostilities are not available. My Department submitted evidence to the Select Committee on National Expenditure of a scheme which has been voluntarily accepted by the men at certain collieries in Yorkshire, whereby bad 1939 cases of absenteeism are dealt with summarily at the pit. I am not prepared at this stage to pass judgment on the results, but, if successful, it will greatly reduce the number of cases which it is necessary to take to court.
§ Mr. Davies
Will the Minister not seriously consider whether this policy of prosecuting, fining and sending miners to prison achieves the object he has in view? Is he not losing by this policy more coal than would otherwise be lost?
Major Lloyd George
As my hon. Friend knows, we are experimenting all the time; and this experiment to which he refers shows great promise, as far as it has gone. I confess that we would far rather deal with it that way than the other.