HC Deb 14 January 1971 vol 809 cc258-9
Q6. Mr. Skinner

asked the Prime Minister which Departments are responsible for winter fuel policy.

Mr. Maudling

I have been asked to reply.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry is responsible for fuel policy.

Mr. Skinner

Can the Deputy Prime Minister explain, especially in view of his answers to questions about the electricity power workers' court of inquiry, why, if we can accept that the preservation of winter fuel supplies is important and is in the national interest, the Treasury knights were sent to represent the Government at the court of inquiry rather than the Departments concerned with the preservation of these supplies?

Mr. Maudling

That is a different but rather less elegant expression of the same point as that which I have already answered.

Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg

Will my right hon. Friend convey to the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry our hope that everything will be done to ensure that action is taken this winter to make certain that the shortfall in supplies of smokeless fuels, a position which was left to us by the Labour Government, is in some way met?

Mr. Maudling

My right hon. Friend is well aware of the seriousness of this problem. I call attention to what my hon. Friend the Minister for Industry said on Second Reading of the Coal Bill about the whole question of the availability of fuel supplies this winter.

Mr. Ashton

What do the Government intend to do about the ever-increasing price of fuel oil? Do they intend to take steps, at a stroke, to alter this trend, or is competition expected to compel the fuel companies to keep their prices down?

Mr. Maudling

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman recognises that this and other countries which are consumers of fuel oil depend to a large extent on the policies of other Governments.