THE TRAGEDY OF COAL
[To the Editor of THE SPECTATOR.] am much obliged to Mr. Coote for his instructive letter ; it is refreshing to find a few firm statements on ii subject which is normally clouded with vague inveeLive. There are, however, certain points on which I should like further information, as follow :
1. At what price do Coote and Warren, Ltd., sell the Derby ]frights referred to ? At the price of 25s. pit this coal must be of very high quality. 2. What were the profits of Coote and Warren, Ltd., for 1934-35 ?
3. Is this coal bought straight from the colliery company or from the Company's agents ?
4. The cost of transport (12s. a ton for about 140 miles) seems excessive. At this rate the coal trains which pass through St. Albans arc worth over £350 in freight charges. In what measure is this due to : (a) the use of 10 ton wagons instead of those of a larger size, and (b) . the system of using private wagons involving excessive shunting and the necessity of returning wagons to owners and not to the place where they can be most usefully employed.
5. Is not the figure of 4s. 2d. a ton for office and general expenses excessive ?• This is equal to a cost of over £120,000 for °Mee expenses only to deliver 600,000 tons of coal and does not include such important outgoings as rent, postages, insurance, &e.
Mr. Stonehouse's letter raises an interesting point. It must be remembered that his rail charges arc only Os. since he is nearer to the pit. Mr. Coote has shown that between pit and St. Albans the price rises by 25s. Od. Therefore if I pay 13s. 6d. pit, how can I sell in St. Albans at less than 89s. 3d. ? Yet Mr. Stonehouse considers that my ideas are extraordinary when I suggest 40s. as the retail price. Alter- natively, if Mr. Stonehouse can cut his intermediate costs below 25s. 9d, will he inform Mr. Coote how to do it ? dentally there is very little coal sold at the price of 34s. pit ; this must be a very special ease.
• Mr. Stonehouse finishes by handing back the poisoned chalice to the owners, saying that they can find the money if they want to. So long as this conflict continues, not only between miner and owner, owner and distributor, but even between distributor and distributor, so long will the coal industry remain in chaos.—Yours faithfully,
P. ASTERLEY JONES.