HC Deb 02 February 1953 vol 510 cc1460-2
23. Mr. Nabarro

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power the calorific value of nutty slack currently being marketed to domestic consumers, ration-free, by the National Coal Board, compared with normal house coals; what quantity of nutty slack is to be available, in total, during the present coal-winter; the market response to date; how much nutty slack it is estimated will be sold this winter; and whether nutty slack is to be a permanent, ration-free feature of our domestic fuel economy.

Mr. Lloyd

The calorific value of this coal is about the same as that of the lower quality house coal groups. Over a million tons are available and about 170,000 tons have been sold so far. I hope that unrestricted fuels will be offered in the future.

Mr. Nabarro

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there are two major complaints about this ration-free material? The first is that distribution is very inconsistent and many areas received none at all, and the second is that, in general, the material comprises much to much slack, dust and dirt and far too few nuts. Will he try to improve the quality of this fuel and give the householder reasonable value for his money?

Mr. Lloyd

It is unfortunate that in some districts some rather bad qualities of this type of coal were distributed in the first instance, but I understand that that has now been put right.

34. Mr. Hamilton

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what steps he proposes to take to reduce the price of nutty slack, in view of its extremely poor burning qualities.

Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd

Nutty slack is already cheaper than any of the usual house coals.

Mr. Hamilton

Is the Minister aware that to charge more than 5s. a cwt. for this rubbish is bare-faced robbery? Can he indicate the co-relation between the derationing of this nutty slack and the increase in fogs in the London area?

Mr. Lloyd

I am myself a user of nutty slack, and in my opinion it is useful, particularly in this cold weather, to eke out supplies of ordinary coal.

Sir H. Williams

On a point of order. As I understand, the Minister does not fix the price of nutty slack. If that is so, may I ask why this Question has been admitted to the Order Paper?

Mr. Speaker

It asked what steps the Minister would take. If the answer is "None," it is still an answer.

Mr. J. T. Price

Further to that point of order. In view of previous Rulings on the admissibility of Questions on the nationalised industries to the Order Paper, could you indicate to the House, Mr. Speaker, in what way Question No. 34 and other Questions differ from those which have previously been refused?

Mr. Speaker

This Question refers to the general question of prices all over the country. The sort of Questions which the Ministers do not answer are particular instances covered by the day-to-day running of the industry.

Sir I. Fraser

Whether the price be high or low, is it not mainly conditioned by the wages which are paid, and might we not rejoice if those wages are good?