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Industrial Conversion (Coal)

Volume 416: debated on Tuesday 20 November 1945

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1.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what allocation of coal it is estimated will be released for domestic and industrial purposes between November, 1945, and April, 1946, by reason of the closing down or change-over of factories which during the same period of last winter were using coal for the manufacture of war materials.

13.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what tonnage stock of coal he has been able to allocate to this winter's supply to domestic users by reason of the fact that he has had a reduced demand from war factories due to the cessation of hostilities.

The amount of coal suitable for domestic use which is being consumed by industrial undertakings is very small. Changes in industrial production are, therefore, unlikely to have any material effect on the house coal position. So far as industrial coal generally is concerned, the changes in the incidence of industrial demand result from so many and such variable factors that it would be unsafe to attempt any estimate of the effect on coal availability of conversion from war to peace production

Is not the Minister aware that there must be an appreciable amount, in any event, of industrial coal so released, and can he not give us some figures? He has made estimates in the past, but can he not now give us some figures in which the householder can have some confidence?

The hon. and gallant Member asked for particulars of the amount of industrial coal that could be made available for domestic purposes. I have pointed out in my reply that it is impossible, because of the fluctuations in the demand for industrial coal and the availability of the coal supply, to form such an estimate.

Is it not highly important that the Minister should be in a position to give us the tonnage involved? There must be some information on the subject, and the House is entitled to it.

The House is entitled to information if that information can be supplied without misleading hon. Members, which I am not inclined to do.

On a point of Order. As a new hon. Member, may I have your guidance, Mr. Speaker, on this matter? I have put down a Question asking for specific figures, which are available. I think there is no doubt about that. Cannot the Minister inform us what the position is?

If the hon. Member is dissatisfied with the reply, there are other ways in which he can pursue the matter.

Might I suggest to the hon. and gallant Member that, if he is dissatisfied, he can raise the matter on the Motion for the Adjournment?