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Written Answers

Volume 465: debated on Friday 27 May 1949

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Written Answers To Questions

Friday, 27th May, 1949

Shipping (Statistics)

asked the Minister of Transport how many ships of 6,000 tons and upwards are still retained under the control of his Department; and how many of these are employed on trooping, and aiding emigration overseas, respectively.

The number and tonnage of ships of 6,000 gross registered tons and upwards, owned, requisitioned or time chartered by my Department are as follows:

NumberGross Tons (Thousands)
Troopships and Hospital Ships
Vessels employed as troopships14178·4
Vessels fitting out as troopships236·4
Hospital ship17·8
Vessels being reconditioned after trooping and prior to return to owners7132·6
Emigration
Vessels employed for emigration or as civilian transports9124·1
Vessels fitting out for such employment349·3
Vessels on Commercial Service
Government owned and under management of shipping companies pending sale430·1
Government owned and chartered to shipping companies24174·4
On bareboat charter from the Canadian Government and sub-chartered to shipping companies58412·5
Totals1221,145·6
In addition, I have entered into an agreement with the owners of three liners operating from the United Kingdom to Australia whereby for four years all passenger accommodation in the ships on, the outward voyages to Australia is placed at my Department's disposal for emigration purposes.

Meat Transport

asked the Minister of Food what work is carried out for his Department by Meat Transport Organisation, Limited; and what action he has taken and is taking to ensure that payments made are based on the services rendered.

Meat Transport Organisation, Limited, act as my agents for the transport of all meat and livestock with which my Ministry is concerned and which is moved by road. Payments made by me are based on the services rendered and represent the reimbursement of approved expenditure under chartering agreements between Meat Transport Organisation, Limited and certain hauliers whose vehicles are pooled by payments made by Meat Transport Organisation, Limited to other hauliers for the carriage of meat and livestock; and approved administrative expenses. The company's accounts are submitted to my Department before final settlement is made.

Coal Industry

Domestic Supplies, Northampton

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power for what reasons Northampton is required to take a high proportion of inferior coal; and whether there is any likelihood of superior coal being available in future.

Whilst I could not agree that Northampton is required to take an unduly high proportion of inferior coal, it is a fact that in view of the serious shortage of the larger sizes of coal, certain grades are being allocated to merchants throughout the country which would not normally be sent to the house coal market. Large coal is required not only for domestic consumers, but for the railways, for bunkers and exports and to a smaller extent for gas making and industrial purposes. Increased mechanisation in the pits makes for a higher proportion of smalls and is an important factor in the present shortage of the larger sizes. Moreover, the coalfields which geographically are best suited to meet export requirements are, in general, those which produce the highest quality coals and after local requirements have been met there is less available for other districts which to a greater extent must receive their supplies from the coalfields which do not contribute to export programmes. I regret that until supplies approximate more closely to total requirements for both inland and export markets it will be necessary to continue to include a proportion of lower grade coals in the allocations for domestic consumers.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power the proportions of various types of coal made available to Northampton merchants during the current period.

Northampton is supplied with about 86 per cent. of its house coal from collieries, viz. 19 per cent. from Nottinghamshire and North Derbyshire, 5 per cent. from South Derbyshire, 24 per cent. from Leicestershire and 38 per cent. from Warwickshire. The balance of approximately 14 per cent. is from Leicestershire opencast workings.

Transport Costs (Subsidy)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power in respect of what coal transport costs is the estimated payment by his Department of £2 million during 1948–49 and £1,500,000 during 1949–50 to be made; who receives these payments; and what is the approximate reduction in the selling prices of coal resulting from this subsidy.

These payments continue arrangements made during the war for relieving the coal consumer of the abnormal transport costs caused by the disproportionate rise in sea as compared with rail freights, or by inability to obtain supplies from the normal pre-war source. Under these arrangements payments have been made in respect of exceptional increases in sea freights compared with rail freights, and the extra cost of the rail transport of coal by abnormal routes or from abnormal sources. During 1949–50 assistance will be limited to seaborne supplies, but during 1948–49 both rail and seaborne supplies qualified for payment. Payments are made to the distributors who are obliged to pass on the full amount of subsidy to the consumer. The benefit to the consumers participating amounted to 6s. 1d. per ton on the average in the year 1948–49. Contributions equal to the amount of the subsidy are received from the Railway Freight Rebates Fund and appropriated in aid of the Ministry's vote.