HL Deb 09 February 1998 vol 585 cc134-5WA
Lord Hogg of Cumbernauld

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is their policy in relation to the provision of concessionary coal to retired miners employed by the National Coal Board or their widows. [HL62]

The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Simon of Highbury)

The Government will continue to supply all qualifying ex-employees of British Coal and their widows/widowers/dependants with their existing entitlements of coal and anthracite.

In the case of manufactured smokeless fuels, from 30 March 1998, when the current supply and delivery contracts expire, in order to comply with EC procurement law, it has been necessary to re-balance entitlement levels among the various brands so as to avoid discrimination between suppliers. The new arrangements will be based on retaining the current entitlement levels (set in 1993) for graded anthracite. All manufactured smokeless fuel entitlements will be determined by the equivalent value of an annual anthracite entitlement.

No beneficiaries need be worse off in terms of the amount of fuel they receive as a result of these changes. This may, however, involve switching from their current brand of fuel (where the volume available after the change is lower) to another where the entitlement is the same as, or in some cases even higher than, the current entitlement. The range of fuels will be increased. All fuel supplied will continue to be of high quality and approved by HETAS, the solid fuel industry's Heating and Testing Approvals Scheme.