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Rises in prices are always unsatisfactory from the point of view of those who have to buy the commodities. The National Board for Prices and Incomes found the increases in price proposed by the National Coal Board to be in line with both the Board's statutory obligations and the criteria set out in the White Paper on Prices and Incomes Policy.
I should have thought that if the people of Britain had been penalised, they were penalised more by the last Government than by the present one. To keep coal prices below cost in some areas means that uneconomic pits have to be kept open far longer. The logic of this probably escapes the hon. Member.
In connection with the differential increases which are applicable to Scotland, will my right hon. Friend make certain that the work which is going ahead to ensure increased productivity and much less unemployment will not be foiled because of high coal prices operating in many industries?
Without jumping the gun—details of the increased prices have not yet been announced—I would say that they are certainly not confined to Scotland or to any one area. We had better await the announcements.
asked the Minister of Power what will be the increase in the annual cost, based on current rates of consumption, to the electricity supply and gas industries, respectively, of coal consumed, resulting from the recommendations of the 12th Report of the National Board for Prices and Incomes; and what estimate he has made of the effect it will have on the cost of production per unit of gas and electricity, respectively.
All increases in price are a burden to some people. We must, however, be realistic. The raw materials and supplies which these industries must get from private enterprise have also risen quite steeply in price.