HC Deb 18 November 1957 vol 578 cc17-8
28. Mr. Lipton

asked the Paymaster-General what is the current rate of coal imports from the United States of America and coal exports to Europe; and what are the respective prices per ton.

Mr. Maudling

In September, which is the latest month for which the Trade and Navigation Accounts are available, 95,000 tons of large coal were imported from America at a landed cost of about £8 8s. a ton and approximately 450,000 tons, mainly of the smaller sizes, were exported to Europe at an average f.o.b. value of £5 15s. per ton.

Mr. Lipton

But does the right hon. Gentleman not think that that is a ridiculous state of affairs, and will he not agree that it would be possible for him to end rationing and save dollars at one and the same time by appealing to the patriotism of the landlords who are now getting more rent to persuade them to put in modern grates in which small coal and processed fuel could be burned?

Mr. Maudling

It is ridiculous only if one fails to appreciate the difference between small coal and large coal or the capital cost of installing grates on the scale required.

Mr. Nabarro

Is it not the fact, and will not my right hon. Friend recall, that successive Ministers of Fuel and Power and successive Chancellors of the Exchequer, from both sides of the House, have done absolutely nothing to encourage householders to install the necessary appliances to burn smaller coal? Will my right hon. Friend appreciate that, so long as he continues to bury his head in the sand like an ostrich and Jo nothing, householders will not take steps of that kind unless encouraged to do so by the Government? What does he intend to do about it?

Mr. Maudling

I cannot accept the premises on which my hon. Friend's question is based. In any case, it surely should not need very much encouragement for householders to install that kind of appliance which, in fact, brings them greater economy in the use of the coal they have to buy.