asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what steps he is taking to ensure that the cheaper prices that merchants are paying for coal to the National Coal Board than that paid to factors will be passed on to the consumer.
It cannot be assumed that there will necessarily be a saving to be passed on to the consumer. The factors performed wholesale distributive services which will have to be provided either by the National Coal Board, in which case an appropriate charge to the merchant will be made, or by the merchant himself, who will incur additional expenses.
Is the Minister aware that in the trade it is suggested that the merchants will get as much as ls. 6d. per ton in buying direct from the National Coal Board, and will he take steps, if that is so, to see that it is passed on to the consumers?
Yes. If there is a reduction in the distributive costs as the result of merchants buying from the Coal Board that will be reflected in the review made from time to time by my Department and the necessary adjustments in retail prices will be made.
Is there any clear and universal definition of "merchants" and "factors" in this particular context?
All the alteration did was to enable merchants to go direct to the National Coal Board or to a factor, if they so desired, or for the Coal Board to do the factoring themselves.