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Transport Costs (Subsidy)

Volume 465: debated on Friday 27 May 1949

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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.