HC Deb 06 February 1951 vol 483 cc1531-2
52. Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much dollar currency has been made available to the National Coal Board for the purchase of coal from abroad.

Mr. Gaitskell

On their current import programme, the National Coal Board had by 22nd January spent 3,345,440 dollars on purchases of coal from the United States of America.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Has any limit been imposed by the right hon. Gentleman on future expenditure under this heading, and if so, what is that limit?

Mr. Gaitskell

They have been authorised to purchase up to 1.2 million tons of coal.

Brigadier Rayner

Was not the Chancellor rather disappointed to find the Coal Board buying coal at £7 a ton and selling it at £4 a ton?

Mr. Nabarro

Is the figure which the right hon. Gentleman has quoted based on an f.o.b. or a c.i.f. basis, and was the coal transported in British or American ships?

Mr. Gaitskell

The figure is the cost including the freight figure and it includes such dollar freight as there was.

Mr. Paget

Is not the position that, because of the efficiency of the National Coal Board, coal produced in England is about half the price of coal produced in the rest of the world?

Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd

Does not the right hon. Gentleman's reply mean that before these transactions are completed, dollar expenditure by the National Coal Board will be at least twice as much as that which was indignantly refused by the Government for increasing the basic ration of petrol last year?