The Labour Party raised an instructive debate in the House
on Friday week on the Government's dealings with coal. Mr. Brace moved for a Select Committee to inquire into the Coal Controller's vagaries, and, though he was beaten on a division by 254 to 59, he had no difficulty in making out a strong case. The sudden reduction in the price of household coal would, he said, deprive the coal-owners producing such coal of part of their legal minimum profit under the Act of 1916. The Coal Controller's mismanagement had discouraged coal-owners from developing their pits in the normal way, and must tend to reduce the output. Mr. Walsh declared that the official coal statistics were worthless. Mr. Holmes, the Derbyshire Liberal Member, pointed out that the Government would neither nationalize the mines nor let the coal-owners manage their own industry. Mr. Houston, on behalf of the shipping trade, reminded the House that coal was one of the most valuable exports—the coal sent to Argentina used to pay for our wheat imports from that country—and that the artificial restriction of the coal export trade must send up the price of food.