§ 34. Sir Robert Young
asked the Secretary for Mines whether he is aware that urban district councils which purchase electricity in bulk from large electricity undertakings are seriously concerned at the increasing price of coal to these bodies; and whether he can explain the reasons for the maximum price of coal rising from 17s. 10d. per ton in 1936 to 26s. 11d. in 1941, as the average cost of coal on which the Lancashire Electric Power Company base the price of its bulk supplies to the urban district councils in its area?
§ Mr. Grenfell
The price of coal to electricity undertakings has not been increased since the war to any greater extent than to other consumers. About half the increase in price referred to by my hon. Friend took place between 1936 and the outbreak of war. Increases since then have only taken place under the authority of my Department, and have been due to such causes as increases in miners' wages and in transport and other costs. The cost of coal to Lancashire electricity undertakings has also been increased to some extent by the necessity of obtaining additional supplies of coal from Northumberland. In any case the figures mentioned by my hon. Friend are, as he states, maximum prices and are somewhat higher than the corresponding averages.
§ Sir R. Young
Cannot the hon. Gentleman do something to secure that the local authorities get their coal from collieries nearer to them where the men are not fully employed?
§ Mr. Grenfell
That is a difficult matter to arrange. Everybody wants to have coal from the nearest colliery, but having regard to questions of quality and supply it is not quite as simple as that. Coal must be sent into Lancashire, which consumes more than half the coal it produces, and more than half its coal consumption must be taken from outside coalfields.
§ Mr. Gordon Macdonald
Does not my hon. Friend think that 17s. 10d. for coal in 1936 was far too low?