§ 7. Mr. Nabarro
asked the Minister of Fuel and Power how far it is the policy of the Government to expand direct consumer sales of house coal by the National Coal Board at the expense of sales attracted from the co-operatives, coal departments and other merchants; and what retail price provisions he makes in this connection.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd
The same retail coal regulations apply to the board as to all other merchants. The Government's policy is to encourage fair competition between all concerned.
§ Mr. Nabarro
But is not the National Coal Board in a privileged position in this matter, as a monopoly producer of all the country's coal? Is it not also the fact that present trends show that the National Coal Board is increasing its supplies of house coal direct to domestic consumers, and that that increase is at the expense of the co-operative societies and private enterprise coal merchants? Is it desirable that a Conservative Government should give consent to a trend which could lead to the nationalisation of coal merchanting?
§ Mr. Lloyd
I think that my hon. Friend is under some misapprehension. It must be remembered that while the allocation of the total amount of coal for domestic supplies for the whole country is made by the Government, the distribution between the various merchants, including the National Coal Board, is done by the merchants' own organisation.
§ Mr. Nabarro
In view of that relatively unsatisfactory reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment at a very early date.