§ 15. Mr. Palmer
asked the Paymaster-General if, in the national interest, he will give a general direction to the National Coal Board to co-ordinate its charges for coal to the publicly owned electricity and gas industries with those for similar grades of fuel sold to other industries generally.
§ Mr. Maudling
No, Sir. The price adjustments made by the National Coal Board on 17th March last took account of prospective supplies of the scarcer coals, particularly large and graded coals. I do not consider that the prices charged to the public utilities and to other industries are out of balance.
§ Mr. Palmer
Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that the general industrial user of small coal has had a reduction in price but that the electricity supply 598 industry in particular, which is the largest user of small coal, has not had this reduction? Is this not unfair to the electricity supply industry? Would it not be helpful to the general fuel policy to have such a reduction, which would give a bias in favour of the use of indigenous fuels?
§ Mr. Maudling
The purpose of the recent changes was to discourage the use of large coal by industry generally. As the electricity industry is not a user of large coal, it did not come within the scheme. The scheme was designed to put up the price of large coal to industry and at the same time to reduce the price of small coal in order to encourage the use of smaller coal without putting a larger cost burden on industry.