HC Deb 20 November 1947 vol 444 cc1313-4
23. Mr. Emrys Hughes

asked the President of the Board of Trade, since, as a result of the failure to buy centrally and distribute all stores without the aid of middlemen, the costs of pitwood needed for coal production have been rising, and pitwood is now costing 4s. a ton of coal produced against 2s. 6d. a ton last year, what steps he intends taking.

Mr. H. Wilson

Practically all imported mining timber is purchased centrally by the Timber Control and there has been no change in the controlled prices fixed by the Control of Timber (No. 45) (Mining Timber Prices) Order, 1947, which came into operation on 27th January last. The increases on that date, which were made with the agreement of the Ministry of Fuel and Power and the National Coal Board, were necessary to bring the prices of mining timber on to an economic basis. The price to the mines of both home-produced and imported mining timber had previously been subsidised. On the same date the discount allowed to merchants for distributing mining timber from National Stock was reduced and is now 2¼ per cent.

Mr. Hughes

Would the Minister agree that if this pitwood were bought centrally by bulk purchase it would result in a lower price of coal?

Mr. Wilson

This sort of timber is bought centrally by bulk purchase and distributed within this country on behalf of the Timber Control by these merchants. We have considered that so far it has been more economical to do it in that way.