HC Deb 04 June 1956 vol 553 cc692-3
22. Mr. Speir

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what general directions he has given to the National Coal Board in relation to the prices of industrial and domestic coal, having regard to the Board's statutory obligation to avoid any undue or unreasonable preference or advantage.

Mr. Aubrey Jones

None, Sir. There is no discrimination between classes of user. The Coal Board charges comparable prices for comparable coals, irrespective of who buys them. Any impression that the domestic consumer is discriminated against probably arises from the following causes. First, much of the coal used by industry is of lower quality than that supplied to the domestic market. The coals which are in heavy demand by householders are large coals which are relatively scarce and costly to produce. Secondly, delivered prices to consumers are naturally affected by varying distribution costs; it is much more expensive to deliver small quantities in bags to householders than large tonnages in bulk to factories.

Mr. Speir

In view of what my right hon. Friend has just said, can he explain how the contrary view has gained credence in many quarters?

Mr. Jones

I can only imagine that many people, including many hon. Members opposite have for too long been labouring what I consider to be a false point.