HL Deb 20 October 1947 vol 151 cc1483-4WA

> asked His Majesty's Government if, in reporting performance in deliveries of coal to industry against the allocations agreed, they will now quickly revise the latter upwards to provide for (a) the additional requirements resulting from increased recruitment to priority export industries; (b) the recognized increased ash content of current deliveries.


The winter scheme of coal allocations to industry was recently explained by the Minister of Fuel and Power at a gathering of representatives of the Press. The scheme in question is based on meeting the coal needs of industry as a whole in full and allows for an increase in supplies to industry of no less than 23 per cent. compared with consumption last year. Coal consumption was, of course, reduced in consequence of the fuel crisis during the early part of this year, but even so the additional supplies now provided for far exceed any reduction on that account.

A small proportion of the supplies will be retained as an unallocated reserve to meet a variety of contingencies including the need to meet the additional requirements of particular firms referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Barnby, where these have not already been included in the original estimate of requirements.

On the question of the ash content of coal supplies, it is admitted that it has been necessary to use up qualities of coal formerly set aside as unsaleable, and to have recourse to dirtier seams, especially of opencast coal, which were not exploited in pre-war days. These factors, and perhaps others of a less tangible character, combined with a cumulative deficiency of up-to-date cleaning plants and inadequate replacement of existing plants, have resulted in a gradual increase in the general level of the ash content of the coals supplied.

This fact has been taken into account generally in the estimates of requirements of industry but one of the main tasks of the fuel efficiency engineers of the Ministry of Fuel and Power has been to help undertakings to maintain their productivity with the use of lower grade fuels. In addition the National Coal Board are making very special efforts to rectify the deterioration which has unquestionably taken place over the last eight years, both by short-term measures, and by the construction of cleaning plants as part of their long-term programme.