Price

Oral Answers to Questions — Coal Industry – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 8th May 1950.

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Photo of Sir John Langford-Holt Sir John Langford-Holt , Shrewsbury 12:00 am, 8th May 1950

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power why coal costs less than coke.

Photo of Mr Philip Noel-Baker Mr Philip Noel-Baker , Derby South

With respect, the hon. Member is in error, if he thinks that, in general, coal is cheaper than coke. The prices of coal and coke vary with the grade of the fuel, and the place where it is bought. As a rule, gas coke for domestic use is cheaper than the better grades of household coal.

Brigadier Clarke:

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he will arrange for domestic coal to be delivered at a uniform price for each grade throughout Great Britain.

Photo of Mr Philip Noel-Baker Mr Philip Noel-Baker , Derby South

As the hon. and gallant Member must be aware, the costs of transporting coal to different places, and the costs of distributing coal to consumers in different places, vary widely. A system of uniform prices for domestic coal throughout the country could not, therefore, be introduced without a drastic reorganisation of the present system of distribution. I am afraid it would be unwise to attempt this reorganisation at the present time.

Brigadier Clarke:

Does not the Minister realise that we now all own the coal and the transport, and that the old age pensioners and others in the South are no better off?

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

Imputations and arguments are not really in order in a supplementary question.

Photo of Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd , Mid Bedfordshire

Whatever difficulties there may be in arriving at a uniform price, will the Minister look into the difficulty of getting any coal delivered in at least 20 towns and villages in the Eastern Counties at present?

Photo of Mrs Lucy Middleton Mrs Lucy Middleton , Plymouth, Sutton

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he will take steps to equalise the prices of coal throughout the country.

Photo of Mr Philip Noel-Baker Mr Philip Noel-Baker , Derby South

I am afraid that it would not be wise to adopt my hon. Friend's proposal to equalise the prices of coal throughout the country at the present time. There have always been wide variations of price in different places; they result from differences in quality, in the distance of different places from the coalfields, in the costs of distribution, and so on. They have become an accepted feature of the industrial and economic life of the country, and to disturb them would cause most serious repercussions of various kinds.

Photo of Mrs Lucy Middleton Mrs Lucy Middleton , Plymouth, Sutton

I am not concerned, in this Question, with the quality of coal but with the price of coal of comparable quality. Is my right hon. Friend aware that the calorific value of a ton of coal is equally the same in the north of England as it is in Plymouth, that wages are the same, and that there is no reason why Plymouth housewives should have to pay more for comparable coal?

Photo of Mr Philip Noel-Baker Mr Philip Noel-Baker , Derby South

My hon. Friend's Question is not confined to housewives; it deals with coal in general. Most industries in this country have been located near to the coalfields because the cost of transporting coal is thus very low. If we had a uniform national price, it would mean an overall increase for all those industries, with catastrophic results.

Photo of Mrs Lucy Middleton Mrs Lucy Middleton , Plymouth, Sutton

Can my right hon. Friend do something for the housewives?

Brigadier Clarke:

Does the Minister realise that under private enterprise cement is delivered throughout the country at the same price?