§ 26. Mr. Murray
asked the Minister of Fuel and Power how many wholesale and retail distributors of coal there were in 1919 and 1945; and what was the cost per ton for distribution in 1919 and 1945.
§ Mr. Shinwell
While reliable figures are not available, it was estimated in 1919 that there were 27,000 or 28,000 distributors, including small dealers. In 1945 there are probably not more than 10,000 1096 regular coal merchants providing an all-the-year-round service, and a slightly larger number of other dealers, many of whom handle a very small tonnage. In addition, there are approximately 500 wholesale railborne and seaborne distributors, some of whom also carry on retail distribution. In regard to costs of distribution, which vary widely in different parts of the country and with different merchants, I regret the information asked for is not available. Recent inquiries, however, covering a limited number of merchants, have indicated that distribution costs vary from 7s. 2d. to 22s. 4d. per ton.