HC Deb 10 February 1958 vol 582 cc19-20
37. Mr. Neal

asked the Paymaster-General what tonnage of coal is intended for export in the next coal year; and what steps he is taking, in consultation with the Foreign Office, to ascertain how many overseas markets are available for the disposal of small coal.

Sir I. Horobin

It is the aim of the Coal Board to increase the amount of coal exported, but it is too early yet to say how far this will be possible in the next coal year. The Coal Board and the coal exporting firms maintain close touch through commercial channels with the markets for British coal and information about coal requirements abroad is also obtained through various inter national organisations and inter-Governmental trade negotiations.

Mr. Neal

Must we assume from that answer that we have completely lost the foothold in the Continental market which was gained by the Labour Government? When does the Minister expect the Coal Board to show a profit if he cannot or will not sell more coal abroad?

Sir I. Horobin

I think it is a confusion of thought, if the hon. Member will forgive me for saying so, to assume that sales in a commercial market are due either to a Labour Government or to any other Government. This is a commercial matter which is very properly left to the National Coal Board. We give the Board such assistance as can be given, but I do not believe that people buy coal because it comes from a particular political party. They buy it if they think it is cheap and good.

Mr. Ridsdale

Is it not a fact that American export prices in small coal are under-cutting our prices in spite of the transport charges?

Sir I. Horobin

I should like notice of that question. The situation changes so rapidly.

Forward to