asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what percentage increase there has been in petrol consumption since de-rationing; and whether he anticipates any difficulty in supplies being maintained at the required level.
During the 14 weeks which have elapsed since petrol was de-rationed, the oil companies have delivered 19 per cent. more into consumption than they did in the 14 weeks before. Part of this increase is due to seasonal and other causes not connected with de-rationing. I am glad to assure the hon. Member that the present rate of supplies is sufficient to meet the demand.
asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he will reconsider the question of petrol storage for farmers who have fewer than five vehicles, to enable them to save the time now wasted in collecting it in small quantities.
The distribution of petrol for farmers, as for other customers, is done by commercial companies, who decide for themselves what methods they will use.
Is the Minister agreeable to allowing this distribution to all farmers who have sufficient storage, and not only to those who have more than five vehicles?
I understand that, under the arrangements in force before, eight companies had delivered to all farmers who have bulk storage capacity, but I could not give instructions to the companies to deliver direct to individual consumers.
Would the right hon. Gentleman make it quite clear that there is no official limitation on the right of private storage?
There is no official control at all. I do not know whether the Opposition now suggest that there should be some official control, but there is none, and I should be very reluctant to impose it.
Will the Minister give an assurance that he will have no objection to stocking up by farmers who have bulk storage capacity, if the companies will let them have the petrol?
I have no objection, but I can well conceive that deliveries to individual consumers might mean a wasteful use of transport. If farmers have a grievance, they can take it to the Oil Consumers' Council, on which the National Farmers' Union is represented.