HC Deb 23 April 1968 vol 763 cc13-4
19. Mr. Eadie

asked the Minister of Power if he will make a further statement on the rationalisation of coal distribution.

Mr. Freeson

Last November the N.C.B. and the trade completed a report on further rationalisation and I asked them to put the proposals into effect as soon as possible. Detailed consultations are now taking place throughout the country and I expect adoption of the policies in the report.

Mr. Eadie

Is my hon. Friend aware that the pace of rationalisation of coal distribution is far too slow? There is mounting anger among miners and consumers that it is still costing as much to distribute coal as it is for the miners to produce it from the bowels of the earth.

Mr. Freeson

I agree that there is a need for speeding up rationalisation of distribution methods. But since the report to which I referred was published, there has been an increase of 55 coal concentration points for rail-borne fuel throughout the country, 19 of them in Scotland.

Mr. Edward M. Taylor

Will the hon. Gentleman look very carefully at the effect of distribution costs on the price of smokeless fuels, bearing in mind the subtantial differentials between one part of the country and another?

Mr. Freeson

All aspects of distribution costs are being taken into account.