29 OCTOBER 1937, Page 2

Coal Royalties The Government is now pledged to the unification

of coal royalties, but the measure will not be carried without strong opposition from what may be called the " coalowners' lobby." Moving the address in the House of Commons, Captain Balfour rightly urged that the measure should be used as an opportunity for increasing the efficiency of the industry. But in the House of Lords, Lord Hastings, a coalowner himself, repudiated any such aspirations. The measure, he said, was a breach in the principle of private property which, once effected, would cause panic and pauper- isation and threaten the existence of all property in Great Britain. This voice from the past need not perhaps be taken seriously, except for the manner in which Lord Hastings announced his intention of fighting the Bill ; " A bad time is coming. The gloves will soon be off." The success with which the coalowners have in the past resisted attempts at reorganisation give the prediction an importance it would otherwise lack. Fortunately another coalowner, Viscount Ridley, who in an excellent speech asked that the benefits of the measure should go to those already engaged in the industry, showed that some at least of the owners may accept the Bill as a valuable means of reform. Lord Halifax added, very justly, that if Lord Hastings' views were shared by most owners of private property, the days of private property in a democracy are numbered.

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