HC Deb 11 February 1941 vol 368 cc1211-2
25. Mr. Culverwell

asked the Secretary for Mines whether he is aware of the continual increases in the price of coal to public utilities; and what steps he is taking to prevent further increases?

The Secretary for Mines (Mr. David Grenfell)

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Lipson) on 5th February.

Mr. Culverwell

Is the Minister aware that this progressive increase in the cost of coal to public utilities is increasing the cost of production and is affecting the cost of living all over the country, which is the best way of bringing on inflation? Does he not think it is time for some modification of the sliding scale governing miners' wages to be considered?

Mr. Grenfell

It would he quite improper to suggest that miners should not be given the same allowances to meet the increased cost of living as is given to other workers, and that is all that is taking place.

Mr. Culverwell

Is the Minister taking no steps whatever to prevent this increase in the cost of coal, which affects industry and the cost of living and so leads to a progressive rise in both cases?

Mr. Grenfell

The hon. Member should know that the cost of coal is rising less in proportion to many other major commodities in the country.

Mr. Neil Maclean

Is the Minister aware that a lot of the coal being submitted at these present costs to the consumer is mixed with a lot of stone which will not burn?

Mr. Grenfell

Unfortunately, all coal is not perfect, but I think on the whole the quality is good.

Mr. James Griffiths

Does the Minister recall that for 10 years public utilities obtained coal at competitive prices and that in those days they did not comparatively reduce the prices of their services to the public?

Mr. Grenfell

I am afraid that conditions in the industry in regard to prices and wages would be reduced if it were left to depend on the public utility companies.