asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what is meant by the gap between the production and consumption of coal; whether the building of dumps on the surface and exports are included in consumption; the present total tonnage of those dumps; whether he will give figures for similar periods in previous years; and whether dumps are being built up with a view to exporting coal when the war is ended?
The gap of 11,000,000 tons to which I referred last October was the prospective difference at the end of the coal-year between production and consumption, calculated on the basis of the trends then existing. For this purpose consumption included all coal exported, but not coal put into stock. So far as the third and fourth parts of the Question are concerned, it would not be in the public interest to give figures of the tonnage accumulated at Government stocking sites. I am attempting, wherever it is possible to spare coal not required for current consumption or for stockbuilding at consumers' premises, to build up the reserves stocked on Government account, with the sole purpose of meeting the essential war requirements that lie ahead.
As to the other parts of the Question, will the right hon. and gallant Gentleman take it from me that I will consult him in future?
I am much obliged.