HC Deb 14 February 1955 vol 537 cc5-6
16. Mr. Nabarro

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power the excess of coal consumption, including exports, over coal production for the first six weeks of 1955 and the corresponding figures for the first six weeks of 1954;and what steps he is taking to meet the increasing coal shortage developing.

Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd

Two and a half and 1½ million tons in the first four weeks of 1955 and 1954, respectively. Imports of coal are much higher than a year ago and my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister of Labour is conducting a campaign to assist the efforts of the National Coal Board to increase mining manpower which rose by 3,000 in the first four weeks of the year.

Mr. Nabarro

But as the deficit for coal supplies is mounting at a much greater rate than the increase in general industrial product, can my right hon. Friend give the House an assurance that his import policy for coal, which is on a much larger scale than last year's, will indeed be sufficient to match the very largely increased demands from industry as a whole?

Mr. Lloyd

At this time of the year the country always consumes more coal than it produces. It is the intention of the Government to import enough coal to meet the needs my hon. Friend has mentioned.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Why does the Minister insist, in order to meet home demands, on importing more coal when the coal is here already in sufficient quantity to satisfy home consumption?

Mr. Lloyd

If the hon. and gallant Gentleman wants to know about the difficulties of the industry, I suggest that he consult some of his hon. Friends.

Mr. Stokes

Would not the right hon. Gentleman get out of all his difficulties if he were brave enough to take the proper steps to insist on having all industrial premises properly insulated? He would save 10 million tons of coal a year that way without any difficulty whatsoever.

Mr. Lloyd

The right hon. Gentleman has himself set a very good example. The Government are encouraging that by the loan scheme.

Mr. G. R. Howard

In view of my right hon. Friend's answers to this and earlier Questions, would I be right in assuming that he would have no objections to any application made in West Cornwall for buying coal direct from France?

Mr. Lloyd

That is a different question.