Deliveries to Merchants

Oral Answers to Questions — Coal – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 23rd July 1951.

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Photo of Mr William Robson-Brown Mr William Robson-Brown , Esher 12:00 am, 23rd July 1951

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what was the total tonnage of household coal delivered to the coal merchants during the months of May and June, 1950, and May and June, 1951, respectively; and what were the deliveries of coke to the coke merchants during the same periods.

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

In May and June, 1950, 5,017,000 tons of house coal were delivered to the merchants; in May and June, 1951, the amount was 5,205,000 tons. The figures for coke are: 1950, 503,000 tons; 1951, 604,000 tons.

Photo of Mr William Robson-Brown Mr William Robson-Brown , Esher

Will the Minister give an assurance that this winter, or before, sufficient household coal will be sent to the coal merchants to protect the ordinary householder in the winter months against a crisis? I have in mind particularly those householders who have no storage places in their homes and who rely on the coal merchants to carry stocks for them.

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

I shall do my very best. So far, the coal merchants have sold the domestic consumers 365,000 tons more this summer than last summer. I should warn hon. Members and the House that the proportion of large coal suitable for the house market is decreasing owing to machine mining. The fall from last year is from 33 per cent., to 32 per cent., which is the equivalent of two million tons. That is causing a difficult problem, which we are now considering.

Photo of Sir Harold Sutcliffe Sir Harold Sutcliffe , Heywood and Royton

Will the Minister bear in mind that hardly any of the householders in the North-West are able to lay in stocks because of the very large gap between the allocation from the collieries to the merchants and what is actually received by the merchants? In the case of one quite small merchant it was as much as 123 tons down in the 11 weeks to June.

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

We are having special difficulty in certain places.

Photo of Mr Victor Yates Mr Victor Yates , Birmingham, Ladywood

Would the Minister consider issuing credit notes to these householders who have no storage whatever, so that they may claim some preference when the winter comes?

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

I will consider that, but I do not think that that is the answer. Last winter, the merchants undertook to look after people without stocking space, and did it very well.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lloyd Mr Geoffrey Lloyd , Birmingham King's Norton

The figure which I mentioned earlier was, I think, the extra stocking target rather than the actual increased amount of supplies. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that supplies coming to merchants do not seem to be adequate for delivery to consumers, in the summer and to reach their stocking targets, unless they can get considerable further supplies.

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

The supplies coming forward are more than last year, and I hope that they will be much more in September and October, which is the peak stocking time, and when Saturday working will be resumed.

Photo of Commander Sir Douglas Marshall Commander Sir Douglas Marshall , Bodmin

This Question deals with part of the summer months. Will the right hon. Gentleman see that more coal goes to South-East Cornwall this week.

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

As I have said, there are difficulties about the movement of coal which are being overcome.

Photo of Commander Sir Douglas Marshall Commander Sir Douglas Marshall , Bodmin

They are not being overcome.