There is no reason why the occupants of upper flats should not get their fair share of the domestic coal available except for the physical difficulty of getting it upstairs now that the distributive trade is dependent on fewer and' older men. This is a local problem, not entirely for the Mines Department, but I am doing my best to encourage remedial measures, including the purchase by owners of blocks of flats of stocks of coal for collection by the tenants, and assistance by local authorities with labour, when conditions are particularly difficult in a cold spell.
My Department is bringing the utmost pressure to bear on the household coal distribution scheme. I am ready to admit there have been very substantial difficulties in the way, and that these complaints which have been quoted in the House have frequently been well founded. I do not, however, blame, the distributors for all the difficulties which have arisen.
asked the Secretary for Mines whether negotiations have been opened between his Department and the representatives of the coal trade in Birmingham, with a view to effecting resumed deliveries of coal; and what action is being taken to effect such deliveries in the meantime?
I assume the Hon. Member refers to deliveries of house coal from Government dumps and to a misunderstanding which arose regarding the margin to be allowed to Birmingham merchants drawing from those dumps. As the result of negotiations which were opened early last week, I understand the situation has been clarified and that deliveries from the dumps have been resumed. There was no stoppage of ordinary deliveries in so far as supplies were available.
When my hon. Friend says that deliveries from dumps have been resumed, are we to assume that this whole matter is now completely cleared up to his satisfaction?
We must be quite clear about this matter. Is it not a fact that the absence of the use of these dumps has caused great hardships in Birmingham, and has not my hon. Friend had many representations made to him on this point? May we now take it that the changes he has made will prevent these hardships recurring?
I made inquiries a few days ago and I was assured the changes were satisfactory. I asked for further opinion on the matter last night, and I was assured that the differences within the trade had been satisfactorily settled.