HC Deb 18 June 1956 vol 554 cc1024-5
7. Mr. Nabarro

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what steps he took to establish the financial justification for the increase in coal prices which he authorised to be made last month.

Mr. Aubrey Jones

Her Majesty's Government approved the latest increase in the pit-head price of coal after a detailed and critical examination had been made of the Coal Board's current trading position and of its prospective development. This examination left no doubt that the Board's accumulated deficit, standing at £37 million at the end of last year, would continue to rise if revenue were not increased, and that an increase in pit-head prices of 8 per cent. was required in order that the Board might recover a substantial proportion of this amount during the next two years.

Mr. Nabarro

Yes, but is my right hon. Friend aware that had I conducted the "detailed and critical examination" my conclusion might not have been the same as his? Why should this examination be conducted secretly within the fastnesses of the Ministry of Fuel and Power? Will not my right hon. Friend publish all the financial figures which led him to the conclusion that this substantial increase in coal prices was necessary, and give the whole House the benefit of scrutinising these important figures?

Mr. Jones

When it is a question of financial arithmetic, I do not see how different conclusions can be drawn from the same body of evidence. As for the second part of the supplementary question, I should have thought that the evidence was perfectly apparent in the figures already published.

Mr. Nabarro

Will my right hon. Friend take note that I am very far from satisfied?