§ Colonel Ropner
asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether the yield of coal from British mines is still pooled by zones for distribution to consumers; and whether the latter, when ordering coal, have any voice as to the nature of the coal desired or must take what is provided at the cost prescribed by the dealer for the particular delivery.
§ Mr. T. Smith
I understand that my hon. and gallant Friend refers to the distribution of house coal. House coal supplies to merchants are regulated by programme arrangements under which certain coalfields supply only into certain Regions; and each merchant has a weekly 1273W allocation of coal which is arrived at by an assessment of the quantities and qualities required for distribution to premises registered with him. Merchants' allocations are determined by the Officers of the House Coal Distribution (Emergency) Scheme, which is an organisation set up by the coal distributive trade to assist the Ministry in regulating domestic coal distribution in war time conditions. My right hon. Friend has repeatedly urged domestic consumers not to insist on particular grades of coal, but to accept whatever supplies merchants have available for distribution. Genuine difficulties about quality can be adjusted through the normal commercial channels, or by reference to the Ministry if necessary; but in the present state of coal production it is impossible to supply every individual consumer with the particular kind of fuel to which he may have been accustomed in the past. The retail prices of coal are controlled by the Retail Coal Prices Order, and price complaints can be investigated and dealt with by the Local Fuel Overseer.