HC Deb 30 January 1947 vol 432 cc255-7W
106 and 110. Major P. Roberts

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) why, in this period of shortage of steel for the country's reconstruction programme, he has imposed a 25 per cent. cut in fuel allocations to the steel makers of Sheffield:

(2) what further steps he proposes to take to increase the allocation of coal, coke and gas to be supplied to steel makers of Sheffield over the next two months.

Sir S. Cripps

The 25 per cent. reduction in the allocation to steel makers is due to the serious shortage of coal and difficulties in transport which have enforced a reduction of about 50 per cent. for industry generally, including, of course, many users of steel. Unless there is a marked increase in the output of coal, neither steel makers nor others can count on any significant increase during the next few weeks.

117. Mr. Prescott

asked the President of the Board of Trade which class of firms in Lancashire, apart from gas and electricity undertakings and steelworks, will be considered as being on work of national importance so as to qualify, on application, for an increased allocation of coal over and above the 50 per cent. allocation of their requirements for maximum production at present granted.

Sir S. Cripps

Subject to broad guidance from the Government, the Regional Fuel Allocation Committee must have wide discretion in deciding how to allocate additional allowances of coal to individual firms. It is not therefore possible to give a list of the industries which qualify far supplementation.

118. Mr. Prescott

asked the President of the Board of Trade what total loss of production will result in Lancashire cotton mills arising from the limitation to mills of an allocation of 65 per cent. of their normal winter consumption; whether it will be open to mills to apply for an increased allocation from the pool available to the North-West region; to whom such applications should be made; and what details should be supplied.

Sir S. Cripps

The allocation of 65 per cent. made to the Cotton Mills by the North-West Fuel Allocation Committee represents a supplement of 15 per cent. over and above the new basic allocation which applies for industry generally. Shortage of coal is not the only factor that may cause loss of production, and its effects cannot be isolated from other factors, such as the recent shortening of hours which has been agreed upon within the industry. Undoubtedly, however, the fuel shortage will result in some loss of production during the next few weeks.

119. Mr. Prescott

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement regarding the fuel shortage to Lancashire cotton mills at the end of 1946 and commencement of this year and, in particular, as to the reasons for such shortage, previous representations received from the industry and steps subsequently taken to try to avoid stoppage of mills.

Sir S. Cripps

Before Christmas deliveries to the cotton mills were running at about 70 per cent. of allocations, owing to the heavy and increasing demands that were being made on the available supplies of coal. The whole position was recently discussed by the Regional Controller with representatives of the industry, and arrangements have been made to carry on on the basis of the 65 per cent. allocation announced last week by the North West Fuel Allocation Committee.

124. Mr. J. McKay

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty if he is aware that Messrs. Clelands, Limited, shipbuilders, of Wallsend, have had their coal supply reduced as follows: Unscreened from 6 tons to 4 tons per week, peas from 8 tons to 4 tons per week and duff from 1¾ tons to 1 ton per week, which equals a reduction of 60 per cent.; that this firm employs 450 men; that the working week will be reduced from 5½ days to 4 days per week unless the supply is increased; and if he will have this case investigated specially to prevent short-time work and, perhaps, reduction of staff.

Mr. W. Edwards

Under the new distribution scheme, which came into force on the 20th January, 1947, Messrs. Clelands Ltd. were given a small allocation of coal initially because of the stocks they held. The matter was reconsidered by the Regional Fuel Allocation Committee on 21st January, when it was decided that Messrs. Clelands, Ltd., should receive in all 13 tons of coal a week. The firm have expressed their satisfaction with this allocation.