HC Deb 26 March 1956 vol 550 cc1759-61
26. Mr. Nabarro

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power by how much per ton Grade 2 house coal is to be raised in price, respectively, in Kidderminster, Plymouth and London, as a result of increased railway freight charges announced last Monday.

Mr. Aubrey Jones

The effect of an increase of 5 per cent. in railway freight charges on the delivered cost of coal would be 5d. per ton in Kidderminster, 5d. per ton in Plymouth, and 1s. 10d. per ton in London.

Mr. Nabarro

As my right hon. Friend will be aware that there have been many allegations recently that the domestic consumer of coal is subsidising the industrial consumer, would he give the assurance that in these price increases there is no subsidy of any description by the domestic consumer to the industrial consumer and that both are paying the proper economic price for their supplies?

Mr. Jones

My hon. Friend is, on this occasion, quite right. There is no subsidy on the part of the domestic consumer in favour of the industrial consumer, and any increases in retail prices as a result of the increased rail freight charges will apply indiscriminately and uniformly to both.

Mr. Shinwell

How can the right hon. Gentleman maintain that industrial coal is being sold at an economic price when he has already admitted that there is a very big deficit from the sale of coal?

Mr. Nabarro

There was in the day of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell), too.

Mr. Jones

That is not the question. The question is whether there is any difference in principle between the industrial and the domestic consumer. As I have said on many occasions, there is none such.

Mr. Callaghan

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that when he and his hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) are in conjunction we tend to believe that both are wrong, and that to satisfy us that there is no deficit to the industrial consumer he will have to do far more than merely make us a statement like that? When can we be told the facts?

Mr. Jones

If the hon. Gentleman will seek them in the proper way, he will find that I am only too anxious for full enlightenment to be spread about a matter which at the moment is subject to regrettable misunderstanding.