18 JULY 1931, Page 2

Coal and Chaos The passing of the Coal Bill, of

which we wrote last week, has threatened chaos to the Scottish coalfields. Negotiations are going on, but nobody seems yet to have determined a suitable basis for them. A number of the miners are refusing, in response to the admonitions of their parliamentary leaders, to continue to work the " spread-over," but a majority of the men are still at work, and none of them are willing to agree to the reduc- tion of wages which the employers would be driven to make by shorter hours being worked. Both sides would obviously prefer to work the hours which are now illegal, and it may well be that they will try to continue. In that case action will lie with the Government, who may attempt to dragoon them to " save face " for them- selves and the union officials who opposed the " spread. over." In the meantime Sir Ernest Cowers, speaking on Monday, again called attention to the need for further reorganization in the industry. The present quota scheme will not cure the depression and may accentuate its effects. It does, however, afford a stable basis for reorganization, and provides an instrument for it in the production certificates, which are transferable.