HC Deb 14 March 1944 vol 398 cc13-4
25. Mr. Shinwell

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he is aware of the number of complaints received at the Fuel Overseer's office respecting shortage of fuel in Epsom and Ewell; and what measures he is taking to deal with the matter.

Major Lloyd George

There is no shortage of coal in Epsom and Ewell. Merchants' stocks are adequate, and Government reserves are also available in the area. Merchants are not seriously in arrears with their deliveries, except in the case of one of the larger merchants who has experienced considerable difficulty owing to sickness. In this case assistance has been rendered by other merchants and this arrangement will continue.

Mr. Shinwell

Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that last Thursday I telephoned the local fuel officer at Epsom and was informed by the assistant in charge, when I made a specific complaint, that the complaint was only one of many hundreds? When I told the assistant that the Minister said there were no complaints, the assistant expressed some surprise. Could the right hon. and gallant Gentleman explain that?

Major Lloyd George

I did not say there were no complaints. If the hon. Member had listened to my answer he would know that there were difficulties in one case due to one of the large suppliers, the South Suburban Co-operative Society, having had very serious illness among their staff in the last few weeks, with the result that they have been very hard pressed to get their supplies delivered. There have been 150 complaints, largely because of the circumstances I have mentioned, but in a population of 60,000, it is not bad proportion.

Sir A. Southby

Is my right hon. and gallant Friend aware that any complaints in the Epsom and Ewell district which have been made to me, have been brought to the notice of the Minister's Department and have been dealt with promptly as far as possible? Is it not a fact that any shortage of fuel in Epsom and Ewell is due not to his Department but to the coal industry itself?