HC Deb 08 February 1954 vol 523 cc813-4
19. Mr. Nabarro

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what measures he is considering to encourage householders to make greater use of coke.

Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd

I have been carefully watching how coke supplies have taken the strain of the winter demand, including the cold spell, and I have decided that the right course is to abolish the restrictions on coke supplies at once. As from tomorrow, people will be free to buy as much coke as they like. Nor need they buy it from any particular retailer: they can buy it from anyone who has coke to sell.

Mr. Nabarro

While congratulating my right hon. Friend upon this very important step forward, may I ask him to bear in mind that an unrestricted and greatly increased supply of the most important smokeless fuel will enable us to proceed without delay with legislation for many more smokeless zones with a view to diminishing smog, especially in the most important smokeless zone of all—the immediate vicinity of the Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey?

Mr. Lloyd

Without going into every detail which my hon. Friend has raised, I would say that coke is the best available smokeless fuel. We have been able to take an important step.

Mr. Gibson

What is the use of what the right hon. Gentleman calls abolishing restrictions if there are no stocks in the depots? Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that the trouble, at any rate in London, during the past few weeks has been that the people have not been able to get supplies? I speak from bitter experience. I ask the Minister, therefore, whether he proposes to make sure that there are adequate stocks of coal in the distributing depots and whether he will ensure that stocks of Coalite are available, also?

Mr. Lloyd

If the hon. Gentleman will permit me, I will deal with that question when I answer the next Question on the Order Paper, which deals with stocks.