HC Deb 05 December 1944 vol 406 cc329-31
11. Mr. Walter Edwards

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he is aware that the supplies of coal to the metropolitan borough of Stepney are much below the allocation allowed by his Ministry; and if he will state the steps proposed to be taken to ensure that persons in badly-bombed areas will be assured of domestic fuel supplies.

Major Lloyd George

The four coal depots in Stepney were affected by a recent railway embargo during one week in November, and merchants' receipts during that month were slightly below their allocation. The deficiency was only six per cent., and this has subsequently been offset by the despatch of extra coal to these depots from Government stock. Adequate reserve stocks are held by the merchants at these depots. The allocation of supplies to the London region takes account of the special needs of occupiers of bombed premises, and merchants and local fuel overseers will give special consideration to the needs of such consumers. In this connection, I would refer particularly to the provision made for such consumers in the Priority Deliveries Scheme, which I announced on 6th November.

Mr. Edwards

How is it that, when the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has made a scheme for priority customers, in the borough of Stepney alone for the past four weeks there have been for the merchants 750 tons below their allocation? Is he not aware that the number of registered customers has increased, and that if we are to carry on as in the past four weeks there will obviously be a shortage of coal in Stepney?

Major Lloyd George

I can assure my hon. Friend that that is not so. The cause of the shortage was an embargo between 14th and 20th November. The actual stocks held at this moment are equal to four weeks' supply. We have also arranged for withdrawals from Government stocks to get over any difficulty in previous allocations.

Mr. Edwards

In view of the fact that my information is different from that of my right hon. and gallant Friend, and in view of the importance of the subject, I have no alternative but to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment.

12. Mr. Burke

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if the regional and group production directors have taken any steps to improve the quality of coal supplies in the Burnley area so that householders may get more coal and less stone per cwt.

Major Lloyd George

Yes, Sir. Steps have been taken to impress on all colliery managements in the Burnley area the importance of keeping to a minimum the quantity of dirt in the coal produced, both by avoiding the excessive filling of dirt below ground and by eliminating it, by picking, washing, etc., on the surface.

Mr. Burke

May I take it that we can expect a very considerable improvement?

Major Lloyd George

I sincerely hope so.

Sir Percy Harris

Is my right hon. and gallant Friend aware that a very large percentage of the coal being distributed in London contains large lumps of stone, which are quiet useless for heating purposes and are extremely heavy?

Major Lloyd George

I shall be glad to have my right hon. Friend's information. I appreciate that there has been some deterioration, although, with exceptions, not more than one would expect during the war, because all the picking belts, where stones are removed, are very short of labour. If our coal officers are given information of cases which are unjustified, we will pursue them.

Mr. Thorne

Is the Minister aware that the quality of the coal we are getting in London is very bad? In fact, the coal I am getting will not burn without being mixed with wood.

Sir Wavell Wakefield

Why is the best coal going to Italy? Could not the best coal be kept here, and the stone be sent to Italy?

Major Lloyd George

I can assure my hon. Friend that that is entirely contrary to the facts. There is no question of the best coal going out of the country.