HC Deb 30 April 1951 vol 487 cc836-8
43. Mr. Harrison

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he will now say what steps he has taken to secure extra supplies of household coal for next winter.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

Yes, Sir, I have arranged that during the six summer months the National Coal Board shall supply to the house coal merchants enough coal to enable them to sell 350,000 tons more than last summer to their customers for current needs and for the provision of private stocks. In addition, the merchants will have supplied to them enough coal to build up their own stocks at the end of October to 2½ million tons, that is, to half a million tons more than they had at that time last year. I have assurances from the merchants that, if the coal is made available to them, they will dispose of it in this way.

Mr. Harrison

Does my right hon. Friend recognise that his reply will give great satisfaction throughout the country and is also a recognition that a shortage of domestic coal can cause as much hardship as even a shortage of industrial coal?

Captain John Crowder

Does the right hon. Gentleman's reply mean that there is to be a reduction of prices during the summer months?

Mr. Noel-Baker

That is another question.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Can my right hon. Friend say what provision is being made for those householders who have no storage facilities, many of whom live in flats and bungalows?

Mr. Noel-Baker

Last winter, the merchants undertook to ensure that such people should get supplies of coal, and I believe that these assurances were carried out throughout the winter.

Mr. David Renton

The right hon. Gentleman has not referred to supplies of coke which many householders require. Will he say whether the arrangements for coal cover the coke situation as well, or will he give a separate assurance that coke will be available?

Mr. Noel-Baker

This is a Question about coal. If the hon. Gentleman will put down a Question about coke, I will answer it.

Mr. James Glanville

Will the Minister remind the House, and particularly hon. Gentlemen opposite, that the miners have got their three million tons extra?

Mr. Noel-Baker

I hope to have the exact figures tonight.

Colonel Crosthwaite-Eyre

Will the right hon. Gentleman say what the increased figures which he has given mean in terms of extra allowance to the average consumer?

Mr. Noel-Baker

I would like to have notice of that question. It will be a total increase in the household coal market of, I hope, 800,000 tons, or perhaps a little more.

Colonel Crosthwaite-Eyre

What does that mean?

Mr. Noel-Baker

The supplies last year were about 30 million tons. It is 800,000 tons compared with that.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

When my right hon. Friend publishes the figures, will he note that the Scottish miners have produced the greatest amount of the coal?