HC Deb 29 November 1926 vol 200 cc825-6
69. Sir W. de FRECE

asked the Secretary for Mines whether, in connection with the removal of coal restrictions, he will state what steps he has taken, or is taking, to ensure that the needs of the small consumer will be safeguarded?

The SECRETARY for MINES (Colonel Lane Fox)

The President of the Coal Merchants Federation of Great Britain has, at my request, sent out a circular impressing upon all members of the Federation the importance Of securing fair distribution of coal as between the small and large consumers. I hope that this will be enough, without recourse to any emergency powers; but these will, of course, remain for a short time and could be used if necessary.

Sir W. de FRECE

With all the information at the disposal of the right hon. Gentleman does he think there is any justification for household coal to be sold at £3 18s. per ton now?

Colonel LANE FOX

That does not arise out of the question on the Paper, but I have no doubt whatever that in the next few weeks there will be a considerable drop in price.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of a recent case at Ascot, where one lady was able to purchase five tons of coal—the case being dismissed by the Court—while at the same time there are thousands of miners in gaol for having taken a few cobbles from slack heaps?

Colonel LANE FOX

That question does not arise.


What does the right hon. Gentleman mean by a short time?

Colonel LANE FOX

I intended a short time.

Captain BENN

Does the right hon. Gentleman's reply mean that he is not depending on the Regulations at the present moment, but is relying on other powers?

Colonel LANE FOX

If the hon. and gallant Member had listened to the answer he would have heard. I cannot repeat it again now. What I said was that the President of the Coal Merchants' Federation had at my request issued a circular, and if that was not sufficient there were emergency powers available in the background.

Captain BENN

That is to say, the right hon. Gentleman has stated that he was not relying on the Emergency Powers, but on his Circular?


Is Christmas a "short time" or not?

Colonel LANE FOX

It depends on how long it takes the hon. Gentleman to get over it.