HC Deb 28 April 1958 vol 587 cc1-2
4. Mr. Palmer

asked the Paymaster-General if, in the national interest, he will give a general direction to the National Coal Board to reduce the price of small coal to the electricity supply industry in order to assist in the reduction of present excessive small coal stocks and to help make indigenous energy sources more competitive with imported fuel.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Power (Sir Ian Horobin)

No, Sir. This is a matter for the commercial judgment of the National Coal Board, and it must have regard to its revenues and to the prospects of future supplies and demand.

Mr. Palmer

Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that it would be a sensible step in the present special circumstances?

Sir I. Horobin

I am afraid that that is a matter which the Board must decide, and, unfortunately, it has no revenue that it can afford to give away.

5. Mr. N. Pannell

asked the Paymaster-General what changes in the rationing regulations are necessary to enable house-holders to buy small coal outside their allocations.

Sir I. Horobin

None, Sir. For many years certain coals have been outside the allocation because of their unsuitable size or quality, and householders are free to buy small coal from any merchant who holds or secures enough business to warrant ordering a supply.

Mr. Pannell

Can my hon. Friend say whether much small coal is sold in this way and whether sales are likely to increase?

Sir I. Horobin

The amount is very small. Last year only 66,000 tons of small coal was sold in this way, off ration. It is not popular, and I am afraid that the chances of any substantial increase are not very great.

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