HC Deb 17 March 1949 vol 462 cc2260-1
20. Mr. Awbery

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he is aware that the amount of domestic coal supplied to the city of Bristol is less than is required to give registered consumers their proper allocation; that the number of coal registrations is rapidly increasing; and what steps he is taking to provide the city with sufficient domestic fuel to meet the allocation requirements of all its consumers.

Mr. Gaitskell

As I have explained on a number of occasions, the maximum permitted quantities are not rations or allocations to which consumers are entitled but are limits up to which they may buy according to their needs if supplies are available. Receipts by merchants against allocations in Bristol have, in fact, been slightly higher than for the country as a whole, but as stocks are low some additional supplies are being despatched. The latest available figures of registrations show that the number of registrations in Bristol increased by 2½ per cent. between May and November of last year which is about the same as the average for the country as a whole.

Mr. Awbery

Is the Minister satisfied that a week's stock in the city is sufficient? Is he aware that the sidings used for coal stocks are now used for other purposes, and will he, in conjunction with the Minister of Transport, see that more sidings are made available for the stocks of coal in the city?

Mr. Gaitskell

I will look into the matter of sidings, but I am quite satisfied that a week's stock in Bristol should be adequate at this time of the year.

24. Mr. Donovan

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power the quantity of domestic coal for each registered consumer supplied to the Leicester Cooperative Society for delivery to its customers for the period from 1st November, 1948, to date; and how much short of the 30 cwt. allocation per registered consumer he expects each such consumer to be for the current period when that period ends on 30th April next.

Mr. Gaitskell

The amount of house coal received by the Leicester Co-operative Society from the 1st November to 5th March represents an average of 16 cwt. per registered consumer which is slightly higher than the average for the Leicester district; the deliveries have also been augmented by withdrawals from stocks. For the half year 1st November to 1st May deliveries are expected to amount on the average to about 23½cwt. per registered consumer.

Mr. Donovan

Could the Minister give any further help in overcoming the shortage? I acknowledge that he has helped already.

Mr. Gaitskell

I have to arrange for coal to be distributed as fairly as possible throughout the country, but just at the moment, owing to the fact that consumers are free to change their merchants, there is a certain tendency for merchants to get hold of as much coal as possible.