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Volume 478: debated on Monday 18 September 1950

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asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he will make a full statement on the present position of coal stocks; and what steps are being taken to remedy the serious situation already disclosed.

The building up of coal stocks for the winter is proceeding steadily, and the rate is likely to increase, now that the miners' holidays are at an end. It is the Government's firm intention that total stocks shall reach the planned level of 16.5 million tons before the winter starts, and all necessary steps to this end are being taken.

What was the purpose of the very alarming speech made by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Fuel and Power at Sedgefield recently, in which he said we were losing ground with regard to stocking?

I am glad to say that things are a little better now, but it is always well to be aware of it if one has a big task to fulfil.

That is a matter of opinion. The technical date is 31st October. I am not sure we shall reach 16.5 million tons by then, but I am sure we shall reach it very shortly afterwards.

How much are stocks this year below those we held this time last year?

The build-up, of course, is different this year because the miners' holidays have been staggered over a different period. Stocks are about a million tons less than they were last year, but only 300,000 tons below the planned target figure.