HC Deb 13 February 1940 vol 357 cc583-5
68. Mr. J. Henderson

asked the Secretary for Mines whether he is aware of the distress caused to a large number of citizens in Manchester owing to the lack of coal supplies during the recent severe weather; and whether he will take the necessary steps to provide more adequate and regular supplies for domestic consumers?

The Secretary for Mines (Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd)

I am aware of the recent shortages in Manchester particularly in those districts normally supplied from Midland coalfields, deliveries from which have been interrupted by the exceptionally severe weather.

Mr. Jagger

Has the Minister reflected on the enormous effect which the new demurrage charge is having?

71. Mr. Maclean

asked the Secretary for Mines under what circumstances the fuel controller, or any one acting on his behalf, commandeered all coal in Glasgow under 26s. per ton on or about 18th January; how many tons were commandeered; where it was sent; and at what price it was sold?

Mr. G. Lloyd

The hon. Member has been misinformed about coal being commandeered or requisitioned in Glasgow. For a period of two days in the middle of last month it was found necessary to arrange that collieries should augment supplies to the railways of locomotive fuel. This involved some contraction in the supply for other purposes of coals of the qualities affected, including the cheaper qualities of house-coal. But arrangements were made whereby supplies for house-coal depots should not be interfered with in cases of need.

Mr. Maclean

Is it not the case that for four weeks a deliberate famine was caused in household coal in Glasgow by the diversion of coal which was coming into the city to other parts?

Mr. Lloyd

If the hon. Member will read my answer I think he will find that that is not the case.

Mr. Buchanan

Is it not the case that terrible hardship is being caused to poor people in the city of Glasgow and that the handling of this matter by the hon. Member's Department is a great disgrace?

Mr. Lloyd

It is well known that there was a hold-up of supplies owing to the critical weather, and since then I understand that merchants have had great difficulty in catching up supplies.

Mr. Maclean

Is it not the case that this happened before the severe weather set in?

Mr. Lloyd

If the hon. Member will read my answer he will see that what he is referring to did not have any substantial effect on the shortage of coal in Glasgow?

Mr. Maclean

Is not a shortage of 15,000 tons a substantial shortage?