HC Deb 16 February 1953 vol 511 cc859-61
8. Mr. Hamilton

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he will make a statement on the coal stock position in Scotland; and what was the comparable position a year ago.

Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd

Distributed stocks at 1,081,000 tons are 92,000 tons less than last year.

Mr. Hamilton

How does the Minister account for the considerable disquiet that exists in various parts of Scotland on the stock position?

Mr. Lloyd

I think it is known that, unfortunately, Scottish production has been rather poor in recent times.

9. Mr. Lewis

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he is aware of the difficulty now being experienced by residents of West Ham in obtaining their allocation of coal; and what action he proposes to take to remedy this position.

11. Mr. Alport

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he is aware of the low level of domestic coal stocks in Colchester; and what action is being taken to improve the situation in that area.

Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd

I am making inquiries and will write to the hon. Members as soon as possible.

Mr. Lewis

Is the Minister aware that quite a number of questions have been put down affecting various parts of Essex, and will he have a look at the whole of the Essex Region, because I think he will find that there is difficulty particularly on the Metropolitan side of Essex?

Mr. Lloyd

Yes, Sir; I will.

10. Mr. P. Roberts

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether, in view of the severe winter, he is satisfied that the fuel stocks will be sufficient to avoid any undue breakdown in deliveries of coal and coke.

Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd

We began this winter with the biggest coal stocks since the war, and this has proved fortunate, because the country has consumed 2 million tons more than last year, and, indeed, the merchants have delivered about 1 million tons more to householders. In the result, total stocks, now at 14.2 million tons, are about the same as at this time last year. The power stations, in particular, have very good stocks and there have been very few power cuts.

The continued cold weather, however, is causing a considerable drain on stocks of house coal. On the latest figures, they are about 200,000 tons less than last year, but coke stocks are 600,000 tons larger. This coke is available to supplement coal supplies. During the last part of this cold winter, both merchants and householders will want to make full use of these very big stocks of coke, and in order to help this I have today made an Order increasing by 1 ton the amount of coke which may be bought before 1st May. This Order applies to all domestic consumers and will come into force tomorrow.

Mr. Roberts

May I ask my right hon. Friend two Questions? First of all, is he aware that his foresight will be much appreciated in the country in regard to providing sufficient stocks before the winter? Secondly, is he also aware that one can use coke together with coal with great advantage in grates, even the old-fashioned type of grate, and that this extra 1 ton will be a very great help at the end of what has been a very severe winter?

Mr. Lloyd

Yes, Sir. I thoroughly agree with my hon. Friend with regard to the good effect of a mixture of coke and coal, even in the old-fashioned grates, but I should like further to remind the House and the public that the modern grates, of which we know such a very large number have been installed in recent years, are particularly designed to burn coke.

Mr. Gibson

In view of the large stock figures the right hon. Gentleman has given, can he explain why it is still taking a month in South London for people who buy coke to get delivery?

Mr. Lloyd

I am afraid that has been the fact, but there has been a large rush of orders, owing to the cold weather, combined with the fact of very severe illness, including influenza, among the distributing staff.

Captain Duncan

Will this extra coke be available in Scotland, in view of the fact that, apparently, the miners are not producing enough coal for the people of Scotland?

Mr. Lloyd

Yes, Sir; it will certainly be available in Scotland, and the stock of coke in Scotland is a good deal larger than last year.