HC Deb 08 February 1971 vol 811 c9
12. Mr. Skinner

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether coal will be imported at such times that stockbuilding takes place, particularly in the summer months; and if he will make a statement.

Sir J. Eden

It will certainly be necessary to rebuild stocks to healthier levels for next winter and imports could no doubt make a useful contribution to achieving this objective.

Mr. Skinner

Is the Minister aware that by continuing to import coal during the summer months, when stocks will be built up as a result of the industry's efforts, he is, on the one hand. deliberately raising prices, because imported coal costs about £3 a ton more than indigenous coal, and, on the other hand, helping to throw more British miners on the scrap heap?

Sir L Eden

The main thing to have in mind is that a continuing gap between demand and supply would harm the long-term interests of the coal industry. The question of prices is one for the importer.