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Domestic Supplies, West Lothian

Volume 400: debated on Tuesday 13 June 1944

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asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what steps are being taken to increase supplies of coal to householders in West Lothian, in view of the inability of coal merchants to give customers an average of one cwt. per week.

I am advised that supplies received in West Lothian have been sufficient to supply consumers who need solid fuel for current consumption with one cwt. per week, but if my hon. Friend has any particular case of hardship in mind perhaps he will communicate with me.

Is not the Minister aware that figures show that less than one cwt. per week has been available to consumers; and also that, in some cases, permits are available for people to get more than their ordinary ration because of illness and such considerations, which prevents others from getting their normal quota?

On the other hand there are those who have more stocks than the permitted quantity and who are, therefore, not in the market for coal. Taking one with the other, it means an average of one cwt. per week.

Is not it a very strange arrangement that people cannot get one cwt. per week in West Lothian? Is not the Minister aware that there are 15,000 miners in West Lothian, and that there has not been a stoppage of work in that district since the war began?

That may be so, but Scotland itself has been an increasing importer of coal since the war started, and I regret to say that, taking the country as a whole, of the very few disputes which have occurred since the agreement was signed, 89 per cent. have occurred in Scotland.

Is the Minister aware that this Question arises out of a declaration by his Ministry that up to 15 cwt. could be obtained by consumers in two months? Does not his statement make that absurd?

No, Sir. I said that Scotland had to have coal imported from England, and I answered the hon. Member's Question. He stated that there was inability to get one cwt. per week and I say, categorically, that there is sufficient fuel in West Lothian to get one cwt. a week. However, if there is any case where that is not so, perhaps the hon. Member would let me know.