HC Deb 12 February 1951 vol 484 cc3-5
1. Lieut.-Commander Gurney Braithwaite

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what percentage reduction in miners' house coal is contemplated consistent with his broadcast of 6th January emphasising the need for economy in domestic fuel consumption.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Fuel and Power (Mr. Robens)

I am confident that the miners will loyally respond to my right hon. Friend's appeal for economy and will, in the present critical weeks, do what they can to cut down the amount of free or concessionary coal they take home; but I cannot, of course, forecast what the saving may be.

Lieut.-Commander Braithwaite

While this is, of course, a recognised perquisite for those who produce our coal, does not the Minister feel that there is now too wide a discrepancy between the allocation of coal to miners and that to other householders, which is now less than two tons per annum?

Mr. Robens

No, Sir, the requirements of the miners are very different from those of other classes of people.

Brigadier Medlicott

Has the Minister considered giving the miners an equivalent allowance in cash so as to place them on the same footing as ordinary householders, and thus bring home to them the fact that coal is not, perhaps, as plentiful in the rest of the country as in the mining areas?

Mr. Robens

In most areas an allowance is made by the colliery for coal left at the pit by the miner.

Mr. Tom Brown

Is the Minister aware that many miners in Lancashire and Cheshire had not received an ounce of concessionary coal up to last Saturday, and that they are prepared to make sacrifices until the coal situation is somewhat easier than it is at present?

Mr. Robens

Yes, Sir, I understand that that is so.

Lieut.-Commander Braithwaite

I beg to give notice that I shall be raising this matter later.

2. Mr. Shepherd

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what was the average amount of coal issued to each householder in the United Kingdom during 1950 and the average cost per ton; and the average amount of concessionary coal issued to miners' households and the price per ton.

Mr. Robens

During 1950 the average amount of coal, including boiler fuel, delivered to householders was a little over two tons at an average cost of 90s. per ton including the cost of delivery. The average amount of free or concessionary coal supplied to men in the mining industry was about 10 tons. Where payment was made the average price was 8s. 4d. per ton, excluding the cost of delivery. The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that concessionary or free coal is part of miners' remuneration and is covered by wage agreements.

Mr. Shepherd

Is the hon. Gentleman fully satisfied that there is no abuse of this concessionary coal privilege and that all the coal is consumed in the houses for which it is intended? Further, will he say what approaches have been made to the miners to withhold acceptance of concessionary coal in view of the great hardship to other householders in the country?

Mr. Robens

Yes, my right hon. Friend made an appeal. We spoke of that on Question No. 1. As far as abuse is concerned, if the hon. Member has any facts I shall be glad to look into them.

Mr. R. S. Hudson

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the last issue of the "Digest of Statistics" showed that a smaller number of miners had a greater amount of coal this year than in 1938, and that if they had been willing to sacrifice a quarter of the excess over domestic consumption it would have obviated any need to import coal from America?

Mr. Robens

The right hon. Gentleman will probably remember that since the date he mentioned Lancashire miners have come into the concessionary coal scheme.

Mr. Hudson

Yes, but I was talking about the last day of December. If the hon. Gentleman takes the figure for 1950 he will find they had five million tons of coal and that if they had been on the domestic ration they would have had just over one million tons.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Is not the King getting free coal like the miners?