HC Deb 21 April 1958 vol 586 cc596-7
14. Sir P. Roberts

asked the Paymaster-General whether he will arrange for the cessation of coal rationing by 30th June of this year in view of the present stocks of coal and coke in the country.

Mr. Maudling

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to Questions on this subject on 31st March.

Sir P. Roberts

That was a negative sort of reply. Is it not a fact that continuing rationing at this time is against Conservative principles when we have our present surplus? Is it not also a fact that rationing at present, especially with regard to low grade fuels, is keeping those fuels at an artificially high price? If the Minister can get rid of rationing it may be possible to reduce the price of coal in some circumstances.

Mr. Maudling

I can assure my hon. Friend that no one is keener than my noble Friend the Minister to get rid of rationing of household coal as soon as possible, but, although stocks of coal generally are high, stocks of household coal are lower than they were last year.

Mr. Cronin

Is there not now a strong case for handing over the distribution of coal in toto to the National Coal Board?

Mr. Maudling

I see no case arising from these questions and answers.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

Would it be very invidious to raise the price of coal a small fraction so that the price mechanism shall take over the distribution of coal, as has been done by the Conservative Government in so many other fields? Then we could get rid of the allocation of rationing.

Mr. Maudling

That is a rather hypothetical question.

Back to