HC Deb 08 December 1919 vol 122 cc870-2
4. Major KELLEY

asked the President of the Board of Trade if, with reference to his statement that there will be a profit of £17,000,000 in the hands of the Coal Controller for the present financial year, he will state the cost of production of the total output, and the estimated quantity and selling price of coal for domestic gas and electricity use, for export, for colliery consumption, including miners' coal, and for general industrial use, respectively; how he proposes to effect the reduction of 10s. per ton, having regard to the Price of Coal Limitation Act of 1915; and from what fund does he propose to make up the price directed to be charged by Orders made under that Act?


The hon. Member is, I think, under some misapprehension. If he will refer to the OFFICIAL REPORT for 28th November, column 1117, he will, I think, find that the figure of £17,000,000 to which he refers is not expected to be in the hands of the Coal Controller at any time. In view of the investigation which is now being made by an independent firm of chartered accountants, I do not think it is advisable to anticipate their Report, which will be laid before the House in due course. The reduction of 10s. per ton is given effect to under the provisions of the Coal (Pit's Mouth) Prices Order and direction, dated the 29th November. With regard to the third part of the question, the hon. and gallant Member will now be in possession of a print of the Coal Industry (Emergency) Bill, under the provisions of which it is proposed to regulate the profits of coal-owners for this year.


Is the Coal Controller now asking colliery companies to finance a loss which would be declared on the maximum price?


No, Sir; that is not what the Coal Controller is discussing with the coal-owners. It is those collieries in which it is reasonably anticipated that there will be a surplus over the 1s. 2d. from whom the coal levy will in the normal course be raised. They are being asked to finance the reduced price in the case of domestic coal. That only applies to those collieries and not to other collieries in which the loss is over all.


If these owners refuse to contribute, will this not mean that the reduction of 10s. will be a loss to the Treasury?


It would depend upon the result of the procedure in this House in connection with the Coal Industry (Emergency) Bill. If that Bill becomes law it would not be open to the coal-owners to refuse to contribute.

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