HC Deb 03 November 1919 vol 120 cc1099-100
16. Lieut.-Colonel HILDER

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the substitution in certain districts, by order of the Coal Mines Department, of sea-borne Durham coal of inferior gas-making properties, instead of rail-borne Yorkshire coal hitherto used on account of its suitability, and by reason of the extra cost of freightage and additional tonnage required necessitates a considerable increase in the price of the gas to the consumers, he can see his way, if the arrangement is really necessary in the national interests, to make the extra cost involved a national one as in the case of the emergency coal supplied for household purposes?


The reasons for the subsidising of the small temporary supplies of emergency house coal by sea to which my hon. and gallant Friend refers do not apply in the case of the continuous supplies of sea-borne Durham gas coal which it has been necessary to arrange because of the shortage of Yorkshire coal, and I regret that I cannot undertake to recommend that the difference between the costs of the rail-borne and sea-borne coal should be met out of public funds.


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to the poor quality gas supplied to consumers by London gas companies in the London area; whether he is aware that the average calorific value during September and October this year was for the following companies: Gas Light and Coke Company, 449.3 B.T.U.; Commercial Gas Company, 467.2 B.T.U.; and the South Metropolitan Gas Company, 558.7 B.T.U.; and whether he is aware that low quality gas adds greatly to the cost of living of many families who use it for lighting and cooking purposes, and can he compel companies to all supply the same standard and also return to the prewar standard, or what action he proposes to take?


I am aware that gas undertakings generally are supplying gas of a lower calorific value than that which they supplied before the War. This is being done at the present time with the approval of the Board of Trade, with a view to ensuring an adequate supply to all consumers during the coming winter. As regards the future, I hope shortly to introduce a Bill giving effect to the recommendations made by the Fuel Research Board in their recent Report to the Board of Trade on gas standards (which has been published as Command Paper 108), whereby gas will be charged for according to the actual number of heat units supplied to the consumer instead of by volume as at present.


Can anything be done to compel the London gas companies to supply gas of the same standard, seeing there is now a great deal of difference between the quality of the gas supplied in the North and the South of London?


I will have the matter looked into and see how it stands.

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