HC Deb 17 November 1919 vol 121 cc657-8W

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that, owing to the Orders of the Board, gas companies and others who had previously drawn their supplies, or part of their supplies, of coal from Yorkshire by rail, are now compelled to take the whole of their supplies from Northumberland or Durham by sea at a very heavy additional cost for transport; that in the case of the Dover Gas Company, who have during the War at considerable expense provided a railway siding at their works in order to reduce the cost, the additional cost of transport and handling coal of quality inferior for gas making has amounted to from 16s. to 18s a ton, the rates of sea freight and demurrage fixed by the authorities being nearly five times the prewar rates; and if he can see his way to take immediate steps to reduce these enormous rates of freight and demurrage or to allow the coal to be transported by rail?


My attention has been, called to this matter, but I fear that, owing to the shortage of coal in Yorkshire and the Midlands it is necessary to continue to supply Durham gas coal by sea as largely as possible to those gas works capable of receiving it. I understand that in the case of the Dover Gas Company the action which was taken affected less than 10 per cent, of the total supplies received by the company. On the question of rates of freight and demurrage, I would refer to the last part of my reply to a question by the hon. Member for the Twickenham Division on Tuesday last.