asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he is aware of the grave discontent aroused in the mining villages of county Durham in relation to the restriction imposed upon the workers in the coalmining industry of giving their surplus coal to their aged and retired parents who, in many cases, have been miners themselves and whose only income is the pension of 10s. per week; and whether he will reconsider this and endeavour to find some method of allowing this practice to continue?
The Order prohibiting the disposal of miners' coal except back to the colliery which supplied it was made after consultation with both sides of the industry, and I am not satisfied that any modification is called for.
Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that this practice has been in operation for over 60 years and that these aged relatives of men in the mining industry must have coal from somewhere, and surely this regulation is a direct attack upon these old people and eventually is the knock-out blow as far as they are concerned?
I can assure my hon. Friend that the Order was not a direct attack upon these old people, far from it, but any modification of the Order would make it almost unworkable. And I would point out to my hon. Friend that miners, though they have been in the habit of giving coal, can still give money because they get cash in exchange for the coal they sell back to the colliery. Further, I believe there is a supplementary coal allowance for pensioners from November for six months every year.
While I thank the Minister for his reply with regard to coal, is he aware that its selling price during April was 26s. o½d. per ton, that the amount charged under the coalmining ascertainments was 20s. 5¾d. and that the amount at which it was sold back by the miner to the coalowner was 13s. 6d. per ton? Is he aware that the owners were making 12s. 6d. per ton profit on this transaction, and—
That is another question.