§ Mr. MACMASTER
(by Private Notice) asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that in London and surrounding districts people are unable to procure a supply of coal for protection against the inclemency of the weather, to say nothing of its necessity for cooking purposes; and is he aware of the number of deaths which have taken place, and been publicly reported, apparently attributable to no other cause than exposure; and what steps does he propose to take in regard to coal dealers to secure delivery by them, and, if not by them, what other means he has to effect delivery and to prevent what has become a veritable coal famine?
I only received notice of the question on coming into the House, and therefore can only find such a reply as comes into my mind. I am aware that there has been great difficulty in the distribution of coal in London and the surrounding districts. My attention has not been directed to deaths attributable to exposure, nevertheless I will cause inquiry to be made on that point. I have already stated to the House that, in conjunction with the Army authorities, arrangements have been made for the use of a number of motor lorries, in order to facilitate the distribution in London and other places. I am hoping that these arrangements will result in removing the difficulty and in ensuring the delivery of coals to all.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
In cases where gratuitous distribution is given by the War Office is the coal merchants entitled to charge a price which covers the cost of carriage?
The prices chargeable to the consumer are definitely fixed, and it will be seen by a notice issued this morning that drastic action is taken in order to see that those prices are not exceeded.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
Is the hon. Member aware that the prices fixed in connection with the Coal Prices Limitation Act include the cost of carriage, therefore his Department should see that when there is gratuitous distribution the cost should be taken from the price?
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
Has the hon. Member taken any steps yet to see that the carmen and porters are doing their work in getting the coal?
I think I replied to a similar question only yesterday. Our attention has been directed to the fact that there has been some irregularity on the part of carmen, and I instanced measures which are being taken to induce them to work a certain number of hours.