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Prices

Oral Answers to Questions — Coal – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 8th March 1966.

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Photo of Sir William Anstruther-Gray Sir William Anstruther-Gray , Berwickshire and East Lothian 12:00 am, 8th March 1966

asked the Minister of Power whether, following the report of the National Board for Prices and Incomes, he will make a statement with regard to coal prices in Scotland.

Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Fife West

asked the Minister of Power whether, in view of the need to attract new industry to Scotland, he will, in the national interest, give a general direction to the National Coal Board not to impose further differential increases in the price of coal there.

Photo of Mr Frederick Lee Mr Frederick Lee , Newton

I have nothing to add to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton) yesterday.

Photo of Sir William Anstruther-Gray Sir William Anstruther-Gray , Berwickshire and East Lothian

Is it not a fact that coal prices in Scotland are rising and that this is far from satisfactory from the point of view of coal users?

Photo of Mr Frederick Lee Mr Frederick Lee , Newton

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.

Photo of Mr Michael Hutchison Mr Michael Hutchison , Edinburgh South

Why should Scottish consumers be penalised by this Socialist Government?

Photo of Mr Frederick Lee Mr Frederick Lee , Newton

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.

Photo of Mr Archibald Manuel Mr Archibald Manuel , Central Ayrshire

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?

Photo of Mr Frederick Lee Mr Frederick Lee , Newton

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.

Photo of Mr John Peyton Mr John Peyton , Yeovil

Does not the Minister realise that in allowing the National Coal Board to announce these very steep increases in price at this stage, he at least deserves our congratulations for showing a candour which is absent in most of his colleagues?

Photo of Mr John Osborn Mr John Osborn , Sheffield, Hallam

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.

Photo of Mr Frederick Lee Mr Frederick Lee , Newton

I have nothing to add to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton) yesterday.

Photo of Mr John Osborn Mr John Osborn , Sheffield, Hallam

Would not the Minister agree that the increased fuel and energy costs are a burden upon industry? Is it not unfortunate that the increases in price in the steel industry have been held back in spite of an increase in fuel costs?

Photo of Mr Frederick Lee Mr Frederick Lee , Newton

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.