4 FEBRUARY 1938, Page 3

The Government and the Coal Industry The Mining Association has

now followed up its private circular to the directors and shareholders of private com- panies with an appeal to the general public, in the form of an expensive advertising campaign against Part II of the Coal Bill in the pages of the national Press. Its campaign is an object lesson in the power of money under a democracy. Unfortunately, these methods appear to have had more success than they deserve ; the fate of the compulsory amalgamation scheme is pretty clearly in the balance. The controversy on the Bill's merits has by now become highly confused ; the Government protests that it contains all the safeguards which made the 1930 Bill inoperative, the coal industry both that amalgamation is progressing swiftly and satisfactorily and, ironically, that amalgamation is to be deplored for its effects on the depressed areas. These elaborate feints cannot, however, obscure the real point of the controversy, which is whether the industry is or is not to retain the power to resist amalgamations which an impartial authority considers beneficial and necessary. If the Government is disposed to give way once again on this point, it should be reminded that its previous surrender in 1936 damaged its credit not a little, that Part II of the Bill fulfils a solemn pledge to the electorate, and that a Government which cannot override private interests, however powerful, ill merits the name of National.

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