§ 17. Mr. P. Williams
asked the Minister of Power whether we will give a general direction to gas boards always to call for competitive tenders for the delivery of coal to their works.
§ The Minister of Power (Mr. Richard Wood)
No, Sir. The gas boards do everything possible, including the use of competitive tendering where appropriate, to obtain the various types of coal they need at the lowest delivered cost.
§ Mr. Williams
Is my right hon. Friend aware that the information I have received seems to be completely contrary to his information and that, whereas the gas boards, the National Coal Board and British Railways were consulting together from early this year about this matter, there was absolutely no consultation whatever with the companies which were carrying the coal to the South-West from the North-East? There was, in fact, absolutely no consultation. If this is commercial judgment, I have to learn the meaning of the words afresh. Further, is he aware that the ships were specially built for this work and the 781 contracts were ended at only three weeks' notice? If this is commercial judgment, it is very bad.
§ Mr. Wood
As I told my hon. Friend the Member for Torrington (Mr. P. Browne) last week, the South-Western Gas Board was convinced that the best method of getting the supplies of the various coals it needed was by the changed method of giving it to the railways. I said to my hon. Friend on that occasion, and I say to my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. P. Williams) now, that I do not see any reason for questioning the judgment of the Board.
§ Mr. Williams
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the importance of this matter and the need to have a satisfactory explanation, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment.