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Domestic Supplies, Cornwall

Volume 464: debated on Monday 9 May 1949

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asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he is aware of the shortage of anthracite and domestic coal in South-East Cornwall; and if he will take immediate action to rectify this position.


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he will take steps to remedy the shortage of fuel in West Cornwall, with particular reference to anthracite.

As I have frequently explained to the House, and as my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary has recently indicated in correspondence with the hon. Members, anthracite is scare on the home market owing to the need to increase exports, particularly to Canada. The shortage is no more acute in Cornwall than elsewhere, and coke, of which supplies are adequate, is a satisfactory substitute in most stoves and boilers. Stocks of house coal in South-East and West Cornwall are reasonably good for this time of the year, and I am not aware of any special difficulties in these areas.

The Minister has used the word "scarce." Is he aware that in Cornwall this is not a question of scarcity; the supply of anthracite is absolutely zero. With regard to the last part of my Question, is the Minister aware that domestic coal is at a dangerously low level? I do not think it is reasonable compared with the rest of the country. Will the right hon. Gentleman look into the matter again?

According to my information, stocks of domestic coal in Cornwall are substantially above the level in the rest of the country, and represent at least two or 1½ weeks' consumption.

Is my right hon. Friend prepared to give priority to owners of stoves which only burn anthracite?

Yes, Sir, we have always given instructions to our local officers to ensure that in such cases anthracite shall be provided.

Would the Minister ask for a special report from the South-Western Fuel Overseer?—because I have been round two or three coal yards in that area, and there is no domestic coal at all. The Scotch anthracite burns too slowly for these "Cookanheat" stoves. There is no Welsh anthracite whatsoever in the St. Austell district—or there was none three weeks ago.

I had, of course, obtained a report from my regional officer before answering the Question. I do not think the hon. and gallant Member realises that stocks of house coal are normally very low at this time of the year.

Is the Minister aware that the report that he mentioned referred to Cornwall, whereas I had specifically referred to South-East Cornwall? Perhaps there is a conflict there. Will the right hon. Gentleman inquire into the matter further?

According to my information, stocks in South-East Cornwall amount to 1.6 weeks supply.