HL Deb 05 July 1999 vol 603 c61WA
Lord Hardy of Wath

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether coal has been, and is being, imported at prices which are significantly below the cost of production and transport; and what action is being taken to prevent this practice. [HL2833]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)

The Government are concerned that aid approved by the Commission under existing ECSC rules should not distort the market against unsubsidised producers in the ECSC market including those in the UK. The Government have complained to the Commission about the unfair practices of two subsidised German anthracite producers. In July 1998, after a prolonged investigation, the Commission ordered repayment of aid by the German companies involved. The Commission is currently investigating a complaint made by CPL Industries against the French company Carbonnages de France concerning the sale of foundry coke.

In addition, the Government are encouraging the relevant authorities to look closely at imports of coal into the UK, where there is evidence of anti-competitive practices or unfair pricing behaviour. Complaints have been made by UK producers about the export of Polish house coal and industrial coal at prices below the relevant costs of production. The Government are discussing this with the Commission and the Polish authorities and exporters, and will consider what action is appropriate in the light of these discussions.