§ Mr. Harold Davies
asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what was the balance of the Coal Charges Account at 31st December., 1946; and what steps are proposed to be taken regarding it.
§ Mr. Shinwell
There are many transactions relating to the account which will not be settled for some months. The balance is estimated to be a debt of some £27 million to the Exchequer. My hon. Friend is no doubt aware that under the Coal (Charges) (Termination) Order, 1947, the coal charge was abolished in respect of any period beginning on or after 1st January, 1947. The Coal Industry Nationalisation Act, 1946, made no provision for the assumption by the National Coal Board of this debt which is a legacy of the emergency financial arrangements adopted under the wartime system of control. The Government have accordingly decided that, with the transfer of the industry to the National Coal Board the debt as finally ascertained should be written off.