Coal Act 1938

Coal Act 1938
Coal Act 1938

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Long title An Act to make provision for the acquisition of the property in all unworked coal and mines of coal and in certain associated minerals, and of certain associated property and rights in land, by a Commission with power of management thereover; for amending the enactments relating to facilities for the working of minerals; for empowering the Commission to promote a reduction in the number of coal-mining undertakings; for continuing Part I of the Coal Mines Act 1930, and for amending the provisions thereof with respect to committees of investigation; for enabling land to be acquired compulsorily for the purposes of the miners welfare committee; and for purposes connected with the matters aforesaid.
Statute book chapter C.52
Territorial extent England and Wales, Scotland
Royal Assent 29 July 1938
Other legislation
Repealing legislation Coal Industry Nationalisation Act 1946
Mines (Working Facilities and Support) Act 1966
Coal Industry Act 1975
Coal Industry Act 1994
Status: Repealed
Text of statute as originally enacted
Official text of the Coal Act 1938 as in force today (including any amendments) within the United Kingdom, from the UK Statute Law Database

The Coal Act 1938 (C.52) was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that created the Coal Commission. Criticized for its inconsistencies, the act was repealed, by degrees, over the next several decades.


The main purpose of the Act was to create a Coal Commission, consisting of five people (including a chairman) appointed by the Board of Trade. The Commission was required to obey all requests of the Board of Trade that were in the "national interest", making it directly under the control of the government of the day. From 1 July 1942 all unworked coal seams and coal mines came into the control of the Commission, who were tasked with managing them in "the interests efficiency and better organisation of the Coal Mining Industry". The Commission was directly prohibited from engaging in coal mining, and as a result owned all the coal but was not allowed to deal with it.[1]

The Act set a sum of £66,450,000 (worth approximately £3,145,060,000 as of 2011)[2] to be paid to the owners of mines and coal seams as compensation. The amount was divided up per region so that, for example, a Yorkshire coal owner would claim from the Yorkshire Coalfield division of the Central Valuation Board.[3] The Act was criticised by academics as a piece of socialist legislation passed by a conservative government, which as a result contained so many amendments, provisos and limitations that it was in many ways unworkable. As an example, the Commission was allowed to open up new underground workings, but was prohibited from disturbing the surface of the ground.[4] It was repealed over several decades by the Coal Industry Nationalisation Act 1946, the Mines (Working Facilities and Support) Act 1966, the Coal Industry Act 1975 and the Coal Industry Act 1994.[5]


  1. ^ Lang (1939) p.301
  2. ^ UK CPI inflation numbers based on data available from Lawrence H. Officer (2010) "What Were the UK Earnings and Prices Then?" MeasuringWorth.
  3. ^ Lang (1939) p.302
  4. ^ Lang (1939) p.303
  5. ^ "LexisLibrary: Document". LexisNexis. Retrieved 2009-10-30. 


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