§ Mr. Russell
asked the Paymaster-General how far there is a decline in the output of large coal and why; and what steps are being taken to encourage the manufacture of more appliances which do not need it and to discourage its use by the public.
§ Mr. Maudling
The proportion of large coal (i.e. coal screened over 2 in.) in deep-mined output has fallen from 331 per cent. in 1949 to 25⅔ per cent. in 1956—a fall from 62 million to 51 million tons. This has been due to increased mechanisation of coal-getting, the greater use of explosives and modern developments in underground transport, winding and coal preparation practice.
The National Coal Board is doing everything possible to arrest this trend in production. Steps are also being taken to reduce the demand for large coal. Industry is being encouraged, with the co-operation of the National Industrial Fuel Efficiency Service, to use smaller sizes in 29W more efficient appliances. The railway modernisation programme is replacing large coal by diesel and electric power.
Distribution of house coal remains restricted by allocation, and the Coal Board, with my noble Friend's support and in conjunction with the distributive trade, is gradually substituting in this market the size known technically as doubles (i.e. coal sized 2 in, by 1 in.) as more supplies of this size become available. Doubles are particularly suitable for use in the many efficient modern appliances sponsored by the Coal Utilisation Council and, in addition, are generally about 1s. 6d. per cwt. cheaper than large house coal of the same quality.