Imports

Oral Answers to Questions — Coal – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 4th April 1955.

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Photo of Sir Gerald Nabarro Sir Gerald Nabarro , Kidderminster 12:00 am, 4th April 1955

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power how much coal was imported in the 12 months to 31st March, 1955; how much came from United States and Canadian sources, and how much from elsewhere; and what were the relevant percentages.

Photo of Hon. Lancelot Joynson-Hicks Hon. Lancelot Joynson-Hicks , Chichester

Figures up to 31st March are not yet available, but for the 12 months ended 28th February, 1955, 4,235,000 tons of coal were imported, of which 935,000 tons were from the United States and Canada and 3,300,000 tons from other sources. The respective percentages were 22 and 78.

Photo of Sir Gerald Nabarro Sir Gerald Nabarro , Kidderminster

Is it not a fact that the import of this very large tonnage of coal from North American sources has again this year, as in previous years, led to a very considerable derangement of North American ocean freights? In those circumstances, cannot we avail ourselves more readily of surpluses of similar coals which exist in soft currency sources in Europe, both east and west of the Iron Curtain, and diminish the supplies from North America?

Photo of Hon. Lancelot Joynson-Hicks Hon. Lancelot Joynson-Hicks , Chichester

Currency considerations are amongst those affecting this question from whence coal is imported, but there are other questions such as the availability of required grades, prices and shipping facilities. There is an advantage in being able to bring in coal in big trans-Atlantic ships.

Photo of Mr Henry Hynd Mr Henry Hynd , Accrington

Does the hon. Gentleman remember what his hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) said when the Labour Government imported a much smaller quantity of coal than this?

Photo of Hon. Lancelot Joynson-Hicks Hon. Lancelot Joynson-Hicks , Chichester

Yes, certainly, but production, under the Conservative Government, has increased so much since then that much more coal is needed.

Photo of Sir Gerald Nabarro Sir Gerald Nabarro , Kidderminster

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power, in consideration of our coal import needs reaching a figure of 10 million tons during the year commencing 1st April, 1955, what steps he is taking to assure foreign supplies.

Photo of Sir William Steward Sir William Steward , Woolwich West

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he is yet in a position to estimate the amount of coal it will be necessary to import in the current coal year to sustain industrial and domestic supplies; and whether he will make a statement.

Photo of Hon. Lancelot Joynson-Hicks Hon. Lancelot Joynson-Hicks , Chichester

It is as yet too early to estimate the amount required to be imported during the next 12 months, but my right hon. Friend has no reason to think that the National Coal Board, who arrange the purchase and importation of coal in accordance with programmes agreed with the Government, will be unable to obtain the quantities necessary to supplement home output.

Photo of Sir Gerald Nabarro Sir Gerald Nabarro , Kidderminster

Does my hon. Friend's reply mean that he assumes that coal production in the United Kingdom is not going to rise during the next 12 months, and that, therefore, this figure of 10 million tons of imports will indeed be required before March, 1956?

Photo of Hon. Lancelot Joynson-Hicks Hon. Lancelot Joynson-Hicks , Chichester

I do not think my answer indicated that I was not anticipating an increase in coal production. I should not like to prophesy or publish any estimate of what imports will be necessary over the next 12 months for fear of prejudicing the Board's commercial negotiations.

Photo of Mr Marcus Lipton Mr Marcus Lipton , Lambeth Brixton

Could not all these expensive complications so ardently desired by the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) be avoided if we stopped exporting coal that we need in this country?

Photo of Hon. Lancelot Joynson-Hicks Hon. Lancelot Joynson-Hicks , Chichester

My right hon. Friend has answered the hon. and gallant Gentleman with regard to coal exports a number of times.

Photo of Mr Arthur Palmer Mr Arthur Palmer , Cleveland

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power the approximate value in pounds sterling of coal imported and coal exported into and from the United Kingdom during the 12 months ended 31st March, 1955.

Photo of Hon. Lancelot Joynson-Hicks Hon. Lancelot Joynson-Hicks , Chichester

In the 12 months ended 28th February the c.i.f. value of coal imports was £24 million and the f.o.b. value of coal exports £58 million.