HC Deb 01 February 1966 vol 723 cc872-3
25. Sir J. Lucas

asked the Minister of Power if he is aware that, though the National Coal Board has been advertising solid fuel-burning appliances extensively, local coal merchants are rationed by the Board on the basis of their 1962 fuel requirements; and if he will issue a general direction, in the public interest, to the Board to ensure that either fuel supplies will be available, or that advertising for the sale of appliances will cease, until the fuel supply is assured.

Mr. Frederick Lee

I understand that, generally, the N.C.B. has been able to supply merchants with the quantities of house coal and Sunbrite which they have needed. For special reasons, supplies of anthracite, Phurnacite and Welsh boiler fuels have been short, but the position is slowly improving.

As I told the House on 23rd November, the chairmen of the nationalised fuel industries agreed to discontinue advertising, both national and local with certain exceptions, for a period of three months from 1st December, 1965. A general direction would not be appropriate.

Sir J. Lucas

It is unfortunate that these people cannot get any more specialist coal than they had in 1962—the merchants are rationed for that. Does not the Minister agree that the Board ought to stop advertising more solid-fuel-burning appliances if they cannot provide the fuel?

Mr. Lee

In general, I would agree with that principle; that is why I suggested no further advertising. But whilst there have been local difficulties in some of these things, overall the position has been maintained fairly well. I would advise the hon. Member to get in touch with the local suppliers on this issue.