HC Deb 03 April 1947 vol 435 cc2205-7
36. Mr. Driberg

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what meteorological and other reasons determine his allocation of only 34 cwt. of coal a year to each householder in the south of England as compared with 50 cwt. in the north; and if he will modify this disproportionate discrimination in periods of severe weather, such as that of the last few months, in which east and south-east coastal areas in particular have been at least as cold as any part of Britain.

Mr. Gaitskell

The maximum allowances are based on general climatic conditions which necessitate space heating to a greater degree and for a greater part of the year in the north than in the south. When there is a spell of severe weather which does not follow the normal climatic tendencies my right hon. Friend would not be justified on that account in revising the annual allowances. The modification of allowances for short periods would moreover be impracticable.

Mr. Driberg

While not wishing to bring about civil war between the North and the South in regard to this matter, may I ask my hon. Friend why it would be impracticable to make the scheme more flexible to meet the conditions, described in the last lines of my Question, which are undoubtedly a fact?

Mr. Gaitskell

It would be impracticable because the programme for distributing coal has to be fixed well in advance, and it would be quite out of the question suddenly to make alterations without upsetting it.

Mr. R. S. Hudson

In view of the difficulty of acceding to the suggestion of the hon. Member, will the Parliamentary Secretary consider whether it would not be much simpler to increase production?

Mr. Gaitskell

We are all anxious to increase production.

Mr. Gibson

Will my hon. Friend make sure that the 34 cwt. is delivered to the people by the retailers?

Mr. Gaitskell

The 34 cwt. is a maximum and not a ration.

Mr. Hector Hughes

In regard to the implications of the original Question, has the Parliamentary Secretary taken into account the course of the Gulf Stream?

Mr. Gaitskell

Yes, Sir.

38. Mrs. Ayrton Gould

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he is aware that considerable hardship is caused by the fact that the allocation of solid fuel to consumers who have young children or invalids in their care at home is no greater than householders, in similar dwellings, where the occupants are out at work all day; and if he will see that, when new arrangements are made for the allocation of domestic fuel, the needs of individual consumers are taken into account.

Mr. Gaitskell

The quantities of fuel allowed under the restrictions are intended to cover the normal needs of ordinary families with children. If there is abnormal need owing to the presence of young children or invalids, it can be dealt with by the local fuel overseer on application.

Mrs. Gould

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that these regulations appear to be completely misunderstood by the local fuel overseers, who will not give allocations where there is great need because of young children or invalids?

Mr. Gaitskell

If the hon. Lady will let me have a specific instance, I will cause inquiries to be made.

Mr. Marlowe

Is the Parliamentary Secretary not aware that the instances are manifold all over the country and will he expect housewives to take note of his most unsatisfactory answer?