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Coal (Summer Prices)

Volume 477: debated on Monday 17 July 1950

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asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he appreciates that his scheme for cheaper solid domestic fuel in the summer acts unfairly on the lower income groups; and if he will, therefore, make some other arrangement for their benefit.

No. I am confident that the introduction of lower summer prices for domestic coal was necessary in the interests of domestic consumers in the lower income groups, and of the housewives who have no stocking space. When the National Coal Board, the Coal Merchants' Federation, and the Co-operative Union put this proposal forward, their purpose was to encourage the summer stocking of coal, and thus to prevent a breakdown in winter distribution. If such a breakdown happened, it might well be the lower income groups who suffered most.To their regret, and mine, the Coal Board, the Federation and the Co-operative Union have not found it practicable to devise special winter prices for householders who, for whatever reason, purchase the bulk of their supplies in winter; but those who have no stocking space will be given priority for their deliveries in the winter months. The scheme, as I have said, is an insurance against a breakdown of the winter supply, and I am glad to say that it is being a great success.