HC Deb 20 June 1955 vol 542 cc1020-1
31. Captain Pilkington

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power to what extent the prices of solid fuels have been increased recently; and to what extent this has been due to the current strikes.

35. Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what increases have taken place in the price of coal since the beginning of the year.

Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd

To the end of May, increases arising from distribution costs varied locally from 6d. to 2s. 5d. per ton. On 5th June, there were increases arising from railway freight charges amounting on average to about 1s. 6d. per ton. During the railway strike many coal merchants incurred abnormal costs, chiefly for long distance road haulage, and in such cases temporary price increases were authorised.

Captain Pilkington

Is my right hon. Friend doing what he can to bring home to the strikers the harm that they are doing to their own country?

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Is it not the case that one of the underlying causes of the increase in coal prices is the money that we are losing by importing coal? Why did the Minister decide to withhold any announcement about further price increases, which should have been made in March, until well after the General Election? It was purely for electoral purposes.

Mr. Lloyd

The underlying reason for the imports is that we are not producing enough to meet our own needs.

Dame Irene Ward

Could my right hon. Friend let us know when he is going to make a specific statement on coal prices? Does he think it is good practice for chairmen of gas boards and other people to keep on pointing out that there is going to be a rise in the price of coal, in the absence of any authoritative statement? Is it not right that the National Coal Board should make the statement, rather than other people not directly concerned with the matter?

Mr. Lloyd

It is a matter for the National Coal Board.

Dame Irene Ward

But why does not my right hon. Friend do something about it?

Forward to