HC Deb 26 March 1956 vol 550 c1758
23. Mr. Nabarro

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power, in consideration of the application made to him by the National Coal Board to increase the Board's borrowing powers, whether he will state the aggregate loss forward of the Board to 31st December, 1955, or any later convenient date; and how he proposes to deal with such accumulated loss.

Mr. Aubrey Jones

The National Coal Board's accounts for 1955 have not yet been completed, but the Board estimate that the accumulated deficit at the end of 1955 was about £37 million. I cannot give an exact figure in advance of the annual Report which the Board expect to publish in May.

The recovery of this deficit will depend on the trend of prices and productivity during the period for which new borrowing powers are being sought.

Mr. Nabarro

Would my right hon. Friend not agree that the last very large increase in the price of coal a few months ago will not contribute in any way to the reduction of this large deficit of £37 million? As my right hon. Friend proposes shortly to come to this House and ask for increased borrowing power for the Board, will he say how this deficit of £37 million is to be accounted and whether it is to be dealt with in the same way as the Transport Commission's deficit of £100 million—merely a loss forward all the time?

Mr. Jones

I ask my hon. Friend to await the statement which I shall make to the House when talking about the request for the new borrowing powers. Deficits can be met in one of two ways: by increases in productivity or by an increase in price. My hon. Friend ought to be fully aware that, so far as increases in productivity are not forthcoming, the ineluctable course is to raise prices.