HC Deb 07 April 1925 vol 182 cc2010-1
44. Mr. STUART

asked the Secretary for Mines whether he can now give any information on the subject of trading in coal by the City of Sheffield during the period of coal control?

Colonel LANE-FOX

Yes, Sir. I find that during 1919 and 1920 about 14,500 tons of coal were delivered to the Sheffield Corporation by direction of the Coal Controller under a scheme for laying down reserve stocks in all districts. When coal became scarce in Sheffield, the corporation sold coal from their reserve stock to the merchants at a price which was fixed to cover the expenses of the corporation and to give a profit to the merchants whose retail price was also fixed. At that time prices were controlled and the episode obviously cannot be quoted as an instance of successful retailing of coal by a local authority.


Will the hon. Gentleman undertake to set up a Court of Inquiry to inquire into the whole matter of what took place in Sheffield?

Colonel LANE-FOX

I do not think there is any need for a Court, the facts are so obvious and plain.


Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that during the period of control the margin between the actual cost and price at the sidings, and what the merchants were selling it at, was 7s., altogether apart from the cost of cartage? The 7s. included 1s. compensation to the merchants because they were not selling the larger quantity of coal that they were before, and for no other reason. In addition to the profit to which the hon. and gallant Gentleman has referred there was 10s. per ton paid by the Corporation to the merchants—[HON. MEMBERS: "Speech!"]—for the losses they were supposed to have incurred.


The hon. Gentleman is now giving information.