HC Deb 04 February 1974 vol 868 cc861-3
8. Mr. Moyle

asked the Minister for Energy when he expects to be able to announce a controlled retail price for paraffin.

Mr. Patrick Jenkin

Under an order which was laid before Parliament on 21st December 1973 the maximum retail price of paraffin became subject to control the next day.

Mr. Moyle

Is the Minister aware that at least in my part of London paraffin is being sold at many differing prices and that many people—for example, old-age pensioners—are having to tramp the streets to try to save the odd penny or two per gallon? What does he intend to do about it?

Mr. Jenkin

There is a maximum price. If retailers are choosing to attract custom by selling below it I should have thought that that was something the hon. Gentleman would applaud.

Miss Fookes

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in my constituency several retailers are not selling paraffin at all, because the wholesale price is too great? Would it not be advisable to control the wholesale price as well?

Mr. Jenkin

I am interested to hear what my hon. Friend says because my Department has had no recent complaints of customers being unable to buy paraffin. We are, of course, aware of the problems of the retail market and we have this matter under investigation in conjunction with the oil industry emergency committee.

Mr. Alan Williams

Is the Minister aware that he would be hard pressed to find anyone selling paraffin below the recommended or stipulated price? Will he bear in mind that the main customers for paraffin are the elderly, and that they are having difficulty not merely in getting cheap paraffin but in getting any paraffin at all? Will he further bear in mind that when they can get paraffin they often have to pay well above the price laid down by the Government? Has the right hon. Gentleman seen the report in the London Press and the Sunday Mirror, in particular, giving examples of retailers blatantly ignoring the price set down by the Government?

Mr. Jenkin

The Government are well aware that supplies of domestic paraffin are used substantially by the poor and the elderly. That is why, under the allocation scheme, supplies of paraffin at present being made available for domestic use are running at 120 per cent. of supplies in the comparable period last year. For that reason we want to make absolutely sure that there is no shortage. If the hon. Member knows of specific cases of retailers not observing the price control to which I referred in my original answer I hope he will bring them to the attention of my Department.

Mr. Moyle

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of that reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment at the earliest possible moment.

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