HC Deb 16 July 1962 vol 663 cc17-8
38. Mr. Lawson

asked the Minister of Power what fresh proposals have been made to him by the Chairman of the National Coal Board for the abandonment of the differential pricing policy for industrial coals introduced earlier this year.

Mr. Wood

None, Sir.

Mr. Lawson

Is not the Minister aware that his policy appears to be in direct cowflict with that of his right hon. Friends the President of the Board of Trade, the Minister of Labour and— might I say—the new Secretary of State for Scotland, who are all the time urging new industry to come to Scotland while the right hon. Gentleman, as Minister of Power, acting with the Chairman of the Coal Board, is doing his best to make coal more expensive in Scotland than in any other coalfield. Is not this an absurd conflict of policy?

Mr. Wood

I did my best in an Adjournment debate at the beginning of last month to explain to the hon. Member that the increase in industrial costs in Scotland would not be very considerable. When the hon. Member refers to this as my policy or suggests that it is a new policy, I would point out that it dates from the time of the National Coal Board's Annual Report for 1948 and the Plan for Coal, 1950, in which the Board specifically suggested that prices in each market should be related to the costs of producing the coal there.

Mr. Lawson

The Minister says that it does not seem to add much to the cost of production in Scotland. Is he aware that the steel industry reckons that it will cost nearly £1 million extra for the same quantity of steel and that the electricity authorities consider that it will cost them more than £1 million extra for the generation of electricity? Is not this a very big factor in costs?

Mr. Wood

It is also a fact that without these increases the coal industry would be quite incapable of meeting the considerable losses which it has been making in Scotland ever since nationalisation.

Mr. T. Fraser

Is the Minister aware that he is talking nonsense, that the Scottish Divisional Coal Board made a profit for several years after nationalisation and that it was only after the Tories took office in 1951 that the Scottish Divisional Coal Board began to make losses?

Mr. Wood

The hon. Member will not deny that compared with the total deficit of the Coal Board of £93 million, £128 million has been lost in the Scottish Division.

An Hon. Member

Under the Tories.

Sir C. Osborne

Subsidised by the English taxpayer.

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