HC Deb 12 February 1951 vol 484 cc6-7
25. Mr. Redmayne

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether the recent increase in the price of coal includes the full cost resulting from the imports of coal as at present planned.

Mr. Robens

Yes, Sir. The extra cost resulting from the import of coal, as at present estimated, was allowed for in full in the increase of price which has recently been made.

Mr. Redmayne

As that increase has been put on the worse qualities, does that mean that the Minister has abandoned his policy of trying to get a wider price, differential between qualities?

Mr. Robens

No, Sir. It is the procedure which has been adopted by the-Coal Board—to vary prices in accordance with quality.

26. Mr. R. S. Hudson

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what proportion of the increase of 4s. 2d. per ton of coal and of 6s. 3d. per ton of coke represents increased wages costs; and what proportion represents other costs.

Mr. Robens

Of the recent increase in the price of coal, 1s. 5d. per ton, or just over one-third, is due to increases in miners' wages made since September last, or to the National Coal Board's contribution to a Supplementary Pensions Fund. The rest is due to the increase in the price of materials which the National Coal Board must purchase, and to other factors. The increase in the price of coke is the result of the increase in the price of coal.

Mr. Hudson

In view of those figures, does the hon. Gentleman realise that he was grossly unfair to the miners in suggesting in a recent speech that the whole of the increase was due to the rise in miners' wages?

Mr. Robens

That suggestion was not made. In fact, if I remember rightly, the only figure I used was that over £100 million had gone towards better wages and conditions for the miners, and that is an accurate figure.

Mr. Nabarro

In view of the fact that the element in respect of miners' wages does not enter into the cost of producing opencast coal, why should the 4s. 2d. per ton be placed on opencast production?

Mr. Robens

Because the selling price of coal must be the same, whether it is deep-mined or opencast coal. There must be an average, in just the same way as the cost of American coal is not charged to industrialists at the higher price.

Mr. A. Fenner Brockway

Is my hon. Friend aware that the decent members of our community are quite prepared to pay more for coal if the miners have justice and not the hunger wages which were paid under private enterprise?