HC Deb 04 June 1951 vol 488 cc671-3
15. Mr. John Rodgers

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power why the period 1st June, 1950, to May 31st, 1951, was chosen as the base period for the allocation of small anthracite nuts to coal merchants.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

This has been the contractual period for the sale of anthracite for many years, and it is at present considered convenient to carry it on.

Mr. Rodgers

Is the Minister aware that the larger merchants have not supplied the smaller merchants, and that, therefore, the smaller merchants have been penalised?

Mr. Noel-Baker

The Coal Board had to take over the arrangements that were in force when they became responsible for the mines, and they are, in fact, going into the whole thing. They propose to allocate anthracite for a period of six months as from 1st June this year, and then reconsider it.

28. Mr. Janner

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether, in view of the continued emphasis by his department on the desirability of increasing fuel efficiency in this country by the substitution of closed stoves and central heating plant to replace open fires, what steps are being taken to ensure that in the next winter and future winters there is an adequate supply of anthracite, coke, phurnacite and other suitable fuel for use in such plants.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

The output of phurnacite will be doubled by new plant which the National Coal Board are about to open; new coke ovens will be brought into operation very soon; and I shall do everything I can to increase the supplies of boiler fuel for household use. But the industrial demand for coke is constantly increasing, and I am afraid that I cannot, therefore, yet say what total quantities of boiler fuel the household market will receive. I would remind my hon. Friend, however, that most of the improved grates and stoves will also burn low grade coal, and that they do so with much greater efficiency than the older types of grate.

29. Captain John Crowder

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he is aware that the retail price, delivered in London, of phurnacite, suitable for use in heat storage cookers, is £7 5s. 10d. per ton; and if any reduction will be made during the summer months.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

The price of phurnacite delivered to consumers in London is now £7 7s. 11d. per ton. As the scheme for summer prices does not apply to boiler fuels, there will be no reduction during the summer months.

Captain Crowder

Does not the Minister think that this very high price will discourage householders from using heat storage cookers, and should not the Minister encourage their use because they are more economical, as he has admitted in a previous answer? Is not £7 7s. 11d. a very high price?

Mr. Noel-Baker

It is very efficient fuel and the demand for it is very high, which shows that consumers think it worth while.

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