HC Deb 04 July 1955 vol 543 cc755-6
26. Mr. P. Williams

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what arrangements are being made about the shipment of coal which is to be imported into Britain.

Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd

All such arrangements are made by the National Coal Board through commercial channels.

Mr. Williams

Can my right hon. Friend give an assurance that none of the shipments will be the subject of any fifty-fifty agreement or any other flag discrimination by the country of sale?

Mr. Lloyd

With regard to the commercial purchases of coal, that is certainly the case, but, as my hon. Friend knows, there was a special arrangement by which American coal was obtained for sterling under an agreement with the American Government, and in this case a different condition obtained.

Mr. Williams

In which case there will be no possibility of flag discrimination whatsoever in this case?

Mr. Lloyd

Not with regard to the commercial purchasing of coal.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Cannot the difficulties be surmounted by not importing coal at all? If the Minister wants to know how to avoid importing coal, I can tell him about it afterwards.

Mr. Bottomley

Are not British shipping interests suffering because of the import of coal from the United States and ought not the Minister to make representations on behalf of British shipping?

Mr. Lloyd

That is a different matter which falls within the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport.

27. Mr. V. Yates

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power the approximate cost of importing 12 million tons of coal during 1955 as compared with the total cost of coal imports during 1954.

Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd

Up to about £80 million compared with £17 million last year.

Mr. Yates

Does that not mean that this is a very serious burden which the householders have to bear? Could the Minister not say how much the price of coal will have to be increased in order to pay for these imports?

Mr. Lloyd

There is another Question on that subject.

Lieut.-Colonel Bromley-Davenport

Is not the shortage of coal typical of every other nationalised industry—worse service at increased cost to the unfortunate public?

Mr. Gaitskell

Could the Minister explain why we are apparently continuing to export coal at a lower price than the price which is paid for imported coal, and will he not consider restricting exports in order to reduce imports and therefore save some money?

Mr. Lloyd

There is a Question on that subject later.

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