HC Deb 20 November 1950 vol 481 cc4-5
3. Mr. Shurmer

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power, in view of the recent official pronouncement that this year's coal target will not be reached, what steps he is taking to ensure that the domestic consumer will not suffer shortages during the winter.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

I would refer my hon. Friend to the answers which I gave last Monday to Questions by my hon. Friend the Member for Ince (Mr. T. Brown), the hon. Member for Burton (Mr. Colegate), the hon. and gallant Member for Brixton (Lieut.-Colonel Lipton) and the hon. Member for Hastings (Mr. Cooper-Key).

Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd

Does the right hon. Gentleman feel confident that he will be able to avoid this year, in Birmingham, the distressing scenes of the coke queues and also the very bad quality of the coal supplied?

Mr. Noel-Baker

As I said last week, I hope that the quality will be better. As for the total supply, our present domestic stocks are as high as they were last year, and they are better distributed. What happens in the latter part of the winter will depend largely on the rate of current supplies.

12. Mr. P. Roberts

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what steps he is taking to ensure that the householders of Sheffield do not get an undue proportion of opencast coal in their allocation this winter.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

The House Coal Distribution (Emergency) Scheme and the National Coal Board, in close consultation, decide how the different qualities of coal shall be divided between the regions and then shared out among the different districts in each region. Each merchant is given as wide a choice as may be, having regard to physical conditions, including proximity to the sources of supply. In this way the coal made available to the house coal market is distributed as fairly as practicable throughout the country, and I am confident that these arrangements will ensure that Sheffield does not receive an undue allocation of opencast coal.

Mr. Roberts

If a householder receives unsuitable coal, will he be at liberty to complain to his merchant and have it replaced?

Mr. Noel-Baker

I should like notice of that Question. Complaint could be made to the merchant, but the merchants are now, I think, fairly well satisfied with the arrangements which have been made.