HC Deb 22 February 1954 vol 524 cc5-6
9. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he is aware of the disproportionate charges made for the purchase of small quantities of 14 or 28 pounds of coal; and, in view of this hardship to poor person, whether he will take steps to ensure a fairer charge.

Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd

The maximum selling prices of small quantities of coal are fixed under the Retail Coal Prices Order, 1941. If the hon. Member will give me details of the charges he has in mind, I will make inquires.

Mr. Sorensen

Is the Minister aware that although that may be so, it does not alter the fact that there are disproportionate charges? Is he not aware of them? Will not the right hon. Gentleman look into this matter sympathetically to see whether the prices can be brought down?

Mr. Lloyd

I will look into it, but this was one of the complicated problems that had to be dealt with when the original coal restriction was imposed during the war, when it was found that, quite apart from their supplies from coal merchants, a number of people were accustomed to buying small quantities of coal from greengrocers' and ironmongers' shops, and for these cases the arrangement had to be made.

Mr. Sorensen

Is the Minister not aware that this matter affects particularly old-age pensioners, who cannot afford to buy more than a small quantity, and also people who might be able to buy more but who have not the accommodation for a large supply?

Mr. Vane

Will my right hon. Friend arrange for coal sold in small quantities to be delivered in some sort of non-returnable bag, in the same way as cement? This would be extremely convenient and much cleaner.

Mr. Lloyd

Most of it is sold in paper bags already.