HC Deb 06 February 1947 vol 432 cc1973-4
81. Mr. Ellis Smith

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware of the effect of the reduction in production in the pottery industry in firms where continuous tunnel ovens are in operation; and will it mean that there is to be allowed a loss of electric power and a small saving in fuel.

Mr. Belcher

I am very conscious of the difficulties created for the potteries by the fuel cuts. All firms may, of course, use their fuel allocation as they wish in order to secure the greatest possible production and employment for their workers.

Lieut.-Commander Gurney Braithwaite

Can the Minister inform the House how often consultations are taking place between his Department and the Ministry of Fuel and Power on this subject of fuel allocation?

Mr. Belcher

As I have already told the House, there is much consultation on this matter.

Mr. Pickthorn

When the hon. Gentleman told the House that firms may use their allocation as they wish, does he remember that the President of the Board of Trade distinguished very carefully between allocation and realistic distribution?

Mr. Belcher

The President of the Board of Trade pointed out that the allocations under this recent scheme are intended to be realistic allocations.

82. Mr. Ellis Smith

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will reconsider the effect of the cut in fuel supplies on the pottery industry, especially on firms closed down under the wartime concentration of industry; if he is aware that such firms, after being again licensed in January 1946, had to get machinery and fixtures and the return of their workpeople; that they started production last September but the cuts in fuel have now caused cessation of production and the suspension of workpeople; and if he will take steps to enable these firms to fulfil their export orders and contracts for refitting the liners "Queen Mary," "Queen Elizabeth" and "Mauretania."

Mr. Belcher

The allocations of solid fuel to the whole pottery industry are under constant review but cannot be increased until the supply position improves.

Mr. Ellie Smith

Is my hon. Friend aware that he has made constant appeals to the whole pottery industry to increase its output in order to make the maximum contribution to relieving the serious economic position of our country and, having done that, they have been treated in this way? Is he further aware that this was the first industry to suffer from wartime concentration, and in view of that, why should they not have received better treatment?

Mr. Butcher

Is it not a fact that the pottery trade can make one of the largest and most important contributions to the earning of dollars of which we stand in such need?

Mr. Belcher

In reply to both supplementary questions, I am well aware of the importance of the pottery industry, but we must share out the fuel which is available.