HC Deb 30 June 1942 vol 381 cc1-5
2. Mr. Keeling

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power, whether he is aware that the proposed ration of 55 cwts. to a seven-room house in Southern England and 85 cwts. in the North means that, after adding the personal ration and making a reasonable and uniform deduction for cooking and light, the fuel available for heat in the South will, in many cases, be less than half that in the North; and whether, he has any statistics of winter temperatures which justify this disparity?

The Minister of Fuel and Power (Major Lloyd George)

My hon. Friend's suggestion is correct if an unusually large amount of fuel is devoted to cooking and lighting. But otherwise the house in the South has available for heating, after a reasonable allowance for cooking and lighting, more and not less than one-half the fuel that is available for the same purposes in a comparable house in the North. On the last part of the Question, I would refer the hon. Member to the Reply that I gave on 16th June to my hon. Friend the Member for Colchester (Mr. Lewis).

Mr. Keeling

Whatever is to be the extent of the preference for the North, does my right hon. and gallant Friend appreciate that if it is persisted in, support for the Government in the South will grow cold?

Major Lloyd George

If that happens, it will be contrary to their consumption of fuel, because the consumption of fuel for heating, lighting and cooking does in fact fall from the North to the South.

8. Sir Herbert Williams

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power how it is proposed that the gas and electricity undertakings are to report excess consumptions of these commodities by consumers when consumers may vary their use of coal, gas, and electricity under the annex coupons and points plan?

Major Lloyd George

If the rationing scheme mentioned by my hon. Friend is brought into operation, gas and electricity undertakings will be required to make a report to the Local Fuel Overseer when a householder is unable or unwilling to surrender coupons to the full value of the consumption recorded at the meter reading.

Sir H. Williams

But that will not happen until 12 months after the scheme has started; what is to be done in the meantime?

Major Lloyd George

It will happen when the meter reading is taken, and I assume that that is done more frequently than once every 12 months.

Sir H. Williams

The meters are read four times a year, and therefore the trouble cannot arise until the last quarter.

Major Lloyd George

When a meter is read a payment is made, which, I take it, is at the end of a quarter. The coupons have to be surrendered at the same time.

Sir H. Williams

Does the right hon. and gallant Gentleman appreciate that the ordinary consumer will be able to surrender coupons for the second and third readings, and that it is only at the fourth reading that he will be short? How then is excess consumption to be reported before the year ends?

Mr. R. J. Taylor

Is it not a fact that although meters are read quarterly they could be read at least three times in the quarter, and the consumer would have to know at each month end what he had used?

Mrs. Beatrice Wright

Is the Minister aware that in certain areas the quality of the gas is so bad that the quantity used by the consumer has not been comparatively excessive, and is he looking into that?

9. Sir H. Williams

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power how coal merchants will be able to forecast their requirements of domestic fuel for households when the householder may vary the quantity of coal he orders under the proposed coupons and points scheme?

Major Lloyd George

I appreciate that under a coupon rationing scheme there is difficulty in estimating the requirements of domestic fuel. These estimates are in any case bound to be difficult, and I am hoping that the Local Fuel Overseers will be able to give considerable assistance by providing estimates of the coal requirements as measured by the household assessments that are to be made in the near future, with a deduction for the estimated consumption of gas and electricity. This will still leave open the possibility that certain householders may switch from one fuel to another, but I should expect in any given area that the ratio of the consumption of different types of fuel would remain generally unchanged, and that the supplies of coal and coke which merchants require could, therefore, be forecast with a reasonable degree of accuracy.

10. Mr. Higgs

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power to what tribunal aggrieved householders may appeal if dissatisfied with fuel rations under the Annex plan?

Major Lloyd George

The household ration, calculated in accordance with the published scale, and the uniform ration of 7½ cwt. per person, would be final in the same way that rations for other articles such as clothing and food are final. The question of an appeal arises only on the relatively few matters that will be left to the discretion of the Local Fuel Overseer, for example the amount of certain of the supplementary allowances—but even here the position will be governed by rules as far as possible. Settlement of the procedure for such appeals is under consideration.

Mr. Higgs

Is the Minister aware that as the plan stands everything is left to the discretion of the Local Fuel Overseer, and will he see that that is corrected?

Major Lloyd George

I am not at all sure that that is correct, but in any case I will look into the matter. I think my hon. Friend will find that there is an appeal beyond the local overseer.

11. Mr. Higgs

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power why, under the Annex plan, consumers of electricity are to be allowed to consume the same as in the previous year?

Major Lloyd George

The hon. Member is mistaken. A household would, in general, be able to consume as much as he desired of any rationed fuel, provided that his total consumption of all rationed fuels did not exceed the value of the fuel coupons at his disposal.

Mr. Higgs

Is the Minister aware that that covers both points rationing and the basic period rationing, and that if the two rationings are put into force the problem will be exceedingly complicated?

Mr. Charles Williams

Can the Minister tell me whether this scheme applies to Government offices as well?

Major Lloyd George

I shall have to look into that.

14. Major Lloyd

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power why, in the Beveridge Scheme, one ton of coal was to be equivalent to one-and-a-half tons of coke; and why, in the Annex plan, the coke equivalent has been reduced by 50 per cent., namely, to one ton?

Major Lloyd George

I am advised that one ton of coke would, under ordinary domestic conditions, produce very nearly the same result for the consumer as one ton of coal.

15. Major Lloyd

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power why, under the Annex plan, establishments are to be rationed on the basis of their consumption in a preceding period; and why the same basis is not to be applied to domestic house holds?

Major Lloyd George

Experience has shown that consumption in a preceding period is the simplest method for measuring the need of establishments other than private houses, owing to their differing circumstances, whereas the number of habitable rooms, combined with the personal allowance, gives a better measure of the fuel needs of a private house.