HC Deb 05 November 1968 vol 772 cc685-6
29. Mr. Alison

asked the Minister of Power if he estimates that winter output and supplies of smokeless fuels will be adequate to meet demand.

33. Mr. Gwilym Roberts

asked the Minister of Power if he is aware of the difficulties in many parts of the country in obtaining supplies of anthracite and other smokeless fuels; what statistics are available for the demand and supply of such fuels; and what steps he is taking to improve the supply.

Mr. Freeson

My right hon. Friend is aware of difficulties in some parts of the country in supplies of particular smokeless fuels. Discussions have been held between producers, British Rail, merchants and the Department, and the National Coal Board has told my right hon. Friend that it is increasing supplies of smokeless fuels, particularly anthracite nuts.

Supply and demand figures for smokeless fuels appear in the Ministry of Power's Statistical Digest. Weekly disposals and merchants' stocks of anthracite and boiler fuel are also published in the Ministry's Weekly Statistical Statement.

Mr. Alison

What will be the position in regard to more specialised smokeless fuel such as "Home-fire" or "Bronowski Bullets" as they are sometimes called? Does the industry show the same wide-eyed optimism as the National Coal Board about these fuels or does it take a more moderate view?

Mr. Freeson

I will ignore the rather wide-eyed adjective used by the hon. Member and say that there will be difficulties as I have indicated this year, but the N.C.B. and the merchants think that they can master the difficulties and that there will be sufficient supplies available.

Mr. Roberts

Is my hon. Friend aware that many people are dependent for cooking facilities on some of these fuels and if the clean air policy is to have any meaning these fuels will have to be readily available?

Mr. Freeson

I certainly agree with my hon. Friend. A tremendous effort is being made in consultation with the various parties to whom I have referred to get the matter reconsidered for this winter and to ensure that there are no difficulties in future.

Dr. Gray

Is my hon. Friend aware that some of my rural constituents have been cooking on Aga stoves for 20 years and this is the first time that they have not been able to obtain Phurnacite? Will he look into the matter and act quickly?

Mr. Freeson

If my hon. Friend will give information to the N.C.B. and merchants they will pursue the matter.