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Fuel Restrictions (Relaxations)

Volume 437: debated on Tuesday 6 May 1947

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(by Private Notice)asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he can now make a statement regarding the relaxation of the Control of Fuel (Restriction of Heating) Order, 1947.

Yes, Sir. After further consultation with representatives of the women's organisations and with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Fuel and Power has issued a licence permitting the use of a gas or electricity for heating residential premises in so far as it is necessary for the health of children under the age of three and old persons over the age of 70. I would also remind the douse that gas and electricity may be used for heating when a certificate is given by a registered medical practitioner that it is necessary in the interests of health of any person. The licence which my right hon. Friend has issued also permits the use of gas or electric heating for the drying of wearing apparel and household linen and for drying premises affected by floods. I am satisfied that in this way we are providing for the reasonable needs of all.

I think these licences are issued under Section 6 of the Order. Can the Minister say in what form this licence has been issued, and whether it would require any further action by those benefiting from it?

Can the Parliamentary Secretary say what effect his right hon. Friend the Minister considers it will have on the saving of coal?

No, Sir, but I do not think the number of persons affected in this way is very large. I do not think, therefore, that the effect will be as great as the right hon. and gallant Gentleman seems to imply.

Will the Minister consider issuing licences for the period when the temperature falls below a certain figure?

As was explained in the Debate, my right hon. Friend has power, of course, to issue licences, and, as the hon. Member no doubt knows, has taken advantage of that power temporarily to postpone the introduction of the Order in Scotland.

But will the Minister not consider issuing licences that will apply automatically?

May I ask what is meant by the last words of the Parliamentary Secretary's reply, when he talked about "meeting the reasonable needs of all"? Surely he must know that, however welcome this remission is, reasonable needs must mean much hardship on the public?

It is not because I do not want to answer that I did not rise, but because you, Mr. Speaker, had called another hon. Member. I would only say that I do not consider that this Order imposes hardship. It may impose some discomfort, and I made it perfectly plain in the Debate that that was, unfortunately, inevitable, but I think the measures taken are quite reasonable and dispose of any charge that they impose hardship.

May I ask my hon. Friend whether, in the case of those over 70 years of age, in regard to the concession allowing them to have heat from electric fires, what happens in the case of a man and his wife when the husband only is over 70?.

I think it might be reasonably supposed in that case that the greater includes the lesser.

With regard to the licence for wet clothes, is this a general licence enabling everybody with wet clothes to use heat to dry them at their own discretion?

Yes, Sir. It is a general licence, and, when the hon. Member reads it, I think he will find that it is perfectly clear that, when it is necessary to use electricity for the purpose of drying clothes, it may be used.

Will the Parliamentary Secretary ask the Minister if he will. from time to time, make a statement showing the saving in fuel brought about by these measures?

The hon. Gentleman says that there will be licences for drying out flooded houses. Will he look into the cases where people have been fined for drying out flooded houses?

May I ask my hon. Friend if he is aware that there was a large fire burning in the Prince's Chamber about an hour ago, and who gave the licence for that?

Is the Minister aware that his statement will give great satisfaction to children of the age of three years, who will look forward to being warm again when they reach the age of 70?