HC Deb 13 February 1961 vol 634 cc917-8
23. Mr. A. Roberts

asked the Minister of Power what general direction he has given to the National Coal Board in order to obviate a shortage of domestic fuel.

Mr. Wood

None, Sir. So far as the supply position is concerned, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which my hon. Friend gave to the hon. Member for Erith and Crayford (Mr. Dodds) on 6th February.

Mr. Roberts

Does the Minister agree that this uncertainty in the mining industry causes a great deal of apprehension? Will he consider giving some real guidance by way of plans, particularly to the coal mining industry?

Mr. Wood

No, Sir. As my hon. Friend made quite clear last week, although there might be certain shortages of certain items in some parts of the country, there is no general shortage. Therefore, it would be quite impossible, even if there were not a great many other objections, to consider giving a general direction to the Board.

Mr. John Hall

Will my right hon. Friend please check the information he is receiving about a shortage of coal supplies? Is he aware that I have a letter from the High Wycombe and District Coal Merchants Associations, which says: it is about time the N.C.B. told the public the truth of their coal supplies". It indicates that there is a considerable shortage of domestic fuel in different parts of the country. Will he look at the matter again?

Mr. Wood

That confirms what I have said, that there are certain shortages from time to time, but they are matters for the Board and the trade, and if they are put before the Board it takes steps to put them right. My hon. Friend is perfectly right, but there is no general shortage of coal in the country.