HC Deb 22 June 1964 vol 697 cc13-4
18. Mrs. Castle

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance what new steps he will take to enable old-age pensioners to meet the increased fuel bills arising from the introduction of smokeless zones.

Mr. Wood

None, Sir. The White Paper on Domestic Fuel Supplies and the Clean Air Policy made clear that the introduction of smokeless zones need not lead to increased fuel bills. The National Assistance Board already takes certain steps to help with the cost in individual cases where there are difficulties.

Mrs. Castle

Whatever the White Paper may say, the facts of the situation are that smokeless fuels are dearer than good quality coal, particularly since summer prices were introduced. Is it not also a fact that in view of our typically cold summer weather old-age pensioners must have a fire all the year round? Ought not there to be an increased allowance for these smokeless fuels in the National Assistance scales?

Mr. Wood

I do not disagree with the hon. Lady when she says that smokeless fuels, weight for weight, are more expensive than ordinary coal, but the White Paper to which I referred made it clear that the heat output of these fuels was greater and that therefore the cost for heat was less. There was a time when I could have given the hon. Lady an even more authoritative answer, but I think that now I had better refer questions of this kind to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Power.