HC Deb 21 June 1954 vol 529 cc13-4
23. Mr. Nabarro

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what steps he has taken since publication of the Ridley Report in September, 1952, to ascertain the annual tonnage of house-coal supplies frustrated by the rationing scheme, and thus revise the Ridley estimate of 4 million tons of frustrated supplies annually; whether he is aware that this figure has now evaporated on account of eight price increases of house coal since September, 1952, aggregating more than 25s. per ton average; and whether he will now end house-coal rationing, while retaining price control.

Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd

Taking all factors into account, I would not at present alter the estimate of some 3 to 4 million tons that I gave my hon. Friend on 54th April.

Mr. Nabarro

Is it not a fact that house coal has risen in price on no fewer than 19 occasions since nationalisation, and is now nearly double the price it was in 1947? As house coal is rationing itself by price, is it really necessary to continue this extensive and cumbrous machinery of allocation for house coal?

Mr. Lloyd

I need hardly say that I, and I am sure the House as a whole, would be only too glad if we could get rid of it, but while my hon. Friend has mentioned certain factors, he will, I am sure, also give due weight to the fact that wider this Government the average income of people is rising and that there has been a very large increase in the housing programme, and consequently a very large increase in the demand for coal.

Mr. Shinwell

In relation to the increase in the price of coal on numerous occasions since the advent of nationalisation, can the Minister say how many times the price of coal has risen since the advent of private enterprise in the mining industry?