HC Deb 14 July 1952 vol 503 cc1784-5
7. Mr. Yates

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he is aware that Birmingham coal merchants are not getting enough coal to meet the needs of the growing population in the city; that some merchants at present have less than one day's supplies in stock, and that in consequence domestic consumers are unable to stock coal for the winter; and if he will take the necessary steps to enable domestic consumers to obtain supplies during the remaining weeks of the summer in preparation for the winter.

Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd

The receipts and sales of the Birmingham merchants are well up to the average and their stocks are greater than in either of the last two years.

Mr. Yates

Is the Minister aware that the two largest suppliers in Birmingham, the Birmingham Co-operative Society, who have 65,000 registered customers, and the Ten Acres and Stirchley Co-operative Society, who have 29,000 on their books have only two days' stock, whereas they should have 14 days' stock. Is he aware that in my constituency two dealers have no coal whatever and are down by 20 tons and 30 tons respectively from 1st May? Will he re-examine the situation in Birmingham, especially in the light of his statement in which he appealed to merchants and consumers to stock up? May I have an answer?

Mr. Lloyd

The position is that in Birmingham it is the normal practice for the merchants to carry relatively small stocks in the earlier part of the summer. The Birmingham merchants normally begin their serious stocking up about this time of the year, about the middle of July when factory holidays are beginning.

Mr. Nabarro

Has my right hon. Friend examined the political content of this Question or whether, in fact there is any foundation for the allegation? A large number of people in Birmingham are very well satisfied with the service they are getting.

Mr. Yates

Does the Minister realise that I confirmed the facts stated in my Question and supplementary with the dealers concerned over the week-end and that I have here a Press statement which describes his request to people to stock coal as "sheer bunkum"?

Mr. Lloyd

It is possible that the hon. Gentleman is examining these facts and reports in the light of the suggestion made by my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) about the political content of the Question. I should inform the House that I had been asked by responsible leaders of the coal merchants in this country to make the appeal for more stocking. While that undoubtedly is a good thing to do at present, we must not be surprised if individual coal merchants in particular parts of the country agitate to improve their position, particularly when they know that the Minister comes from the city, but so far as I am concerned I am for fair shares in coal.

Mr. T. Brown

Is the Minister satisfied with the distributive and sales agency in the City of Birmingham? Is he aware that last year we had many complaints from the Birmingham area and there seems to be some weakness on the sales and distributive side of the coal industry in Birmingham?

Mr. Lloyd

I have not heard any complaints of that.