HC Deb 10 November 1943 vol 393 cc1131-2
35. Mr. Parker

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether he is aware that a transport reorganisation scheme for the movement of coal was put into operation during the last war which brought about a saving to the railways of 700,000,000 ton-miles; whether he has put into operation any positive scheme for the reorganisation of coal transport to deal with the shortage of wagons and locomotives, which has been steadily increasing over the last three years; and what proportion of the total tonnage of goods traffic carried by the railways was represented by coal-class traffic before the war and at the present time, respectively?

Mr. Noel-Baker

As my answer is rather long, I will, with my hon. Friend's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the answer:

I am aware that in the last war a reorganisation scheme for the distribution of coal was prepared by the Board of Trade, which it was estimated at the time would save about 700,000,000 ton-miles a year. According to my information, the scheme proved impracticable in certain respects, and was not fully implemented. I have no information as to the extent of the transport economies actually effected. In 1938 coal class traffic was about 65.3 per cent. of the total tonnage of merchandise traffic carried by the railways, but a great deal of it was short-haul traffic from pit to port for shipment. It is estimated that for the first half of 1943, coal class traffic was about 55 per cent. of the total merchandise traffic, but the average length of haul was substantially greater than in 1938. Moreover, the tonnage of merchandise traffic, other than coal, had increased greatly since before the war, the increase being about 30 per cent. in the case of mineral and heavy merchandise traffic and about 65 per cent. in the case of the lighter merchandise traffic.

36 and 37. Mr. Parker

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport (1) whether the zoning of coal deliveries round depôts includes the assignment of a limited number of merchants to supply the requirements of a defined segment of the zone; and what precautions are taken to prevent overlapping;

(2) the names of the 26 places at which drastic reorganisation schemes are in operation for the distribution of coal; and the general nature of the schemes in question?

Mr. Noel Baker

Only the "more drastic" schemes eliminate overlapping between merchants or groups of merchants within the zone. They do so either by limiting individual merchants to specified districts, or by excluding them from districts where their share of the total trade is small. If my hon. Friend sees no objection, I will circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT the names of the 27 places where these "more drastic" schemes are now in force.

Following are the names of the 27 places: Leeds, Scunthorpe, Nottingham, Romford, Ongar, Oxford, Forest of Dean, Exmouth, Plymouth, Keynsham, Axminster, Bideford, Barnstaple, Bath, Buckfastleigh, Kingsbridge, South Molton, Montgomery and Forden, Aled District, Prestatyn, Burton-on-Trent, Hereford, Coseley, Whitchurch District, Preston, Fylde Rural District, Stalybridge.