§ 20. Mr. Frank Allaun
asked the Minister of Power if he will inquire into the inadequacies of some of the smokeless fuels, as delivered, which are jeopardising the implementation of the Clean Air Act.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Power (Mr. John Peyton)
The Domesitic Coal Consumers' Council, set up under the Coal Industry Nationalisation Act, 1946, is examining the recent report of the Consumer Advisory Council which criticised the quality of some smokeless fuels as delivered. It will no doubt advise me of any action it considers necessary.
§ Mr. Allaun
Can the Parliamentary Secretary indicate that we are likely to 14 have some action following this inquiry into the Council's Report, which showed that some housewives are paying up to £4 per ton for water in their fuel? Is he aware that this arises mainly through fuel being left uncovered in transit or in merchants' yards and that it could be prevented by the Government imposing a maximum water content standard?
§ Mr. Peyton
I hope that the hon. Member does not under-value the Domestic Coal Consumers' Council, which I am sure will go into this matter very carefully. The distributive trade has taken the matter very seriously. As evidence of that, there was the introduction of the approved coal merchants' scheme on 1st May this year. I hope that this will be successful.
Is it not about time that the Government themselves did something about it? The consumer is being almost held to ransom in the smokeless fuel areas because of the Clean Air Act. Is it not unjust that the Government should leave it to the good will or otherwise of certain individuals and leave the housewife stranded and having to pay in some cases excessive sums for inferior quality smokeless fuels?
§ Mr. Peyton
It is not a matter of leaving it to anyone's good will. I echo the comment made in the Report itself, that the customer must do something to protect himself. People should complain to their merchants. Too often bad goods —I am not referring to this trade alone —are accepted without complaint. A great deal is up to the public.