asked the Secretary for Mines the number of complaints made to his Department by industrial consumers on the grounds that prices are excessive and that they are unable to secure redress or consideration by the investigating committees for the area, with the aggregate tonnage involved; and whether he has been able to offer any promise of satisfaction to the aggrieved parties?
Three complaints, involving in the aggregate about 275,000 tons, have been made to my Department by persons who have failed to convince committees of investigation that their complaints against the price of coal were well-founded. The assurances by the coal industry announced in the House on 7th February, and the provisions of Schedule 8 of the Coal Bill, which provide for an appeal from the decision of the committees, are generally designed to meet these and other difficulties brought to my notice.
asked the Secretary for Mines whether he will institute an inquiry into the discrepancy existing between the ascertained pithead price for coal and the prices charged to the general domestic consumer?
No, Sir, but I understand that in most districts the question of the margins between wholesale and retail prices of coal is at present being reviewed by the selling scheme authorities and by representatives of the distributors.
In view of the undoubted grievances of coal consumers, particularly domestic consumers, in relation to the disparity between pithead and retail prices of coal, and more particularly because of the confusion that ensued in the Coal Bill Debate in Committee, will the Minister advise his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade to institute a public inquiry into the whole of these transactions?
Can the hon. and gallant Gentleman furnish any adequate and substantial reason why there should not be a public inquiry at a time when consumers are stating their grievances all over the country?
On a point of Order. May I give notice that I will raise this matter on the Adjournment at the earliest possible moment owing to the unsatisfactory nature of the replies?