HC Deb 29 April 1969 vol 782 cc1146-7
15. Mr. Speed

asked the Minister of Power whether he has completed his discussions with the National Coal Board and with other Departments on the National Coal Board's pricing policy; and if he will make a statement.

19. Mr. Younger

asked the Minister of Power whether he is satisfied that the pricing policies of the National Coal Board are in accordance with the criteria laid down by Command Paper No. 3437; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Mason

I am not yet ready to make a statement, but I hope to do so soon.

Mr. Speed

Was that not a disappointing reply? Is the Minister aware that the Treasury was expressing concern about this nearly 15 months ago and his predecessor started discussions in March, 1968? What positive action is the right hon. Gentleman taking?

Mr. Mason

As I said in my reply, I hope to make a statement soon.

Mr. Younger

Since Lord Robens said on 25th March that the Coal Board was making considerable losses in 1968–69, can the Minister assure the House that if there are to be price increases to comply with Command Paper 3437 these will be referred to the Prices and Incomes Board, as the Prime Minister promised in 1967?

Mr. Mason

I am aware that if major increases come forward, they may have to be referred to the N.B.P.I. I have received proposals for selective price increases. They are under consideration, and the Coal Consumers' Council is considering them at the same time.

Sir J. Eden

In the meantime, will the Minister confirm that it is his policy that the consumer, not the taxpayer, should pay for the products of these industries?

Mr. Mason

It depends how far down the line one wishes to go on every product.