asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what steps he is taking to obviate in the future the inconvenience caused by failures in the distribution of household coal in recent months.
My right hon. Friend fully realises the inconvenience referred to, which arises from a variety of causes, of which the shortage of coal is only one. Householders and merchants can themselves do much to obviate the difficulties in distribution, which are always liable to occur in a long spell of cold weather, by purchasing and stocking wherever possible as much coal as they can in the summer and autumn.
Yes, it is intended to introduce the summer prices scheme again this year, and I hope that it will be an incentive to people to stock up as much as possible during the summer.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that for tens of thousands of householders in London it is quite impossible to stock up as they cannot get more than about 2 cwt. into their bins? Will he ask his right hon. Friend to be a little less complacent about this matter and to do something to get much bigger stocks in the London area?
My right hon. Friend is not at all complacent about this, and it is in order to assist people such as those to whom the hon. Gentleman refers that we want people who can to stock up as much as possible to help the distributors to get the coal out in bad weather to the hon. Gentleman's constituents and others.
Will the hon. Gentleman see that his right hon. Friend not only gets sufficient coal to the people who can stock it but gets coal stocked at the wharves ready to meet emergencies, so as to avoid the position we had during the last winter when many people could not get coal at all because it went to people who were able to stock it and there were no stocks at the wharves?