28 DECEMBER 1945, Page 2

A New Era in Industry

When one considers the history of the coal industry, the decisive part it has played in the nation's development, and especially its long and bitter record of labour struggles, the importance of the Bill becomes even more clear. The industrial revolution, which transformed the entire character of this country, was primarily based upon coal ; and the nationalisation of the industry is the most signi- ficant mark of the end' of one era and the beginning of another. In the new era, the functiOn of the industry will be transformed. For until now coal has been valuable primarily as a direct source of fuel and power. In the years to come it will be no less valuable as an indirect source, and its by-products are likely to be more produc- tive than the coal itself. The greatest task of the new Coal Board will be to ensure that such by-products are properly developed and exploited. For this reason, it is essential that great imagination shall be shown in the selection of its members. The Government has, wisely, been anxious to preserve liberty of action and initiative for the management of the coal industry ; it must be equally anxious to ensure that the management is fully aware of the potentialities of coal in the new industrial age. The country will not derive its proper award for its very large investment in the industry, unless the Coal Board includes not only efficient and vigorous business men, but men who understand the scientific revolution which is taking place in industry. The appointments to the new board will be a very good guide to whether Mr. Shinwell, and the Government of which he is a member, are really competent to carry out the immense tasks they have undertaken.