HC Deb 20 April 1959 vol 604 cc11-2
10. Sir W. Anstruther-Gray

asked the Paymaster-General if he will state the quantity and categories of undistributed coal stocks in Scotland with comparable figures for a year ago.

Mr. Maudling

Total undistributed stocks compared with a year ago were 442,000 tons as against 308,000 tons. I will, with permission, circulate details of the categories of coal in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Sir W. Anstruther-Gray

Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that adeqaute steps are being taken to consume these stocks and not to allow them to mount?

Mr. Maudling

Consumption of coal is not, I am afraid, a matter entirely within the responsibility of Her Majesty's Government, but I am sure that the National Coal Board is doing all it can.

Following are the figures (in tons):
4th April, 1959 5th April,1958
Small and unscreened coal 247,000 187,000
Graded coal 48,000 8,000
Large coal 17,000 1,000
Anthracite 29,000 18,000
In wagons 101,000 94,000
442,000 308,000
11. Sir W. Anstruther-Gray

asked the Paymaster-General what general direction he will give the National Coal Board to speed up the distribution of coal during the summer months.

25. Mr. Lipton

asked the Paymaster-General, in view of the need in the national interest of preventing the accumulation of excessive coal stocks, if he will give a general directive to the National Coal Board to accelerate the distribution of coal stocks before the winter.

Mr. Maudling

A general direction to the National Coal Board in this matter would not be appropriate. Speed of distribution in the summer months depends on the demand from merchants and consumers, and differentiation between summer and winter prices is designed to give them the necessary incentive to stock coal during the summer.

Mr. Lipton

Are we to assume from that reply that there is going to be a reduction in prices over the summer months? Will the right hon. Gentleman consider advising the Coal Board to do what any businessman or shopkeeper would do in similar circumstances when he finds himself overstocked, namely, to sell off at bargain prices?

Mr. Maudling

On the second point, I am sure that the nationalised industry needs no such obvious advice. On the first point, I would say, "Wait and see."

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