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Home And Export Supplies

Volume 480: debated on Monday 13 November 1950

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17.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he will make a statement on the subject of the supply of coal during the next six months to the home market and to the export market respectively.

19.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether adequate supplies of coal will be available to industrial and domestic consumers during the winter months.

26.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he is satisfied that the nation's requirements for coal can be met by home production during the next 12 months.

As I have often said, we need more coal than we are getting, not only for export, but also for the domestic consumer and for other needs at home. The Government will make the essential requirements of the home market the first charge upon our resources. We shall certainly have some coal for export, although, as a result of the present levels of home consumption and output, the tonnage will be substantially less than it was a year ago.

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise the difficulty, especially to industrialists, in the uncertain state of fuel and power position, of carrying out the Government's request for increased exports and increased production for rearmament when, at present, very few industrialists can be certain that in any one week they will get the power for their present designed output?

I am in constant touch with industrialists on the subject and perhaps the hon. Member will draw my attention to any cases of failure.

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind particularly the needs of domestic consumers, especially in crowded urban areas, who have not had any opportunity of laying in stocks because they have no storage facilities?

Could the right hon. Gentleman say what is the stocking position now?

The latest figure I have is for 28th October, when the distributed stocks were 15.4 million tons. To that we think we are entitled to add about 400,000 tons which have been distributed to domestic consumers under the summer prices scheme.

Does the original answer of the right hon. Gentleman mean that, owing to inadequate production by the coal industry, the Government are having to sacrifice the export trade and our foreign exchange requirements to home consumption?

No, Sir. What it means is that internal consumption has increased so greatly, owing to full employment, that we are having to postpone some exports.

22.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he is satisfied that the National Coal Board will be able to maintain during the winter the export of coal at the same level as last year.

I would refer the hon. Member to the answer which I have just given to Questions Nos. 17, 19 and 26.

In view of the importance of our balance of trade and the export of coal, in view of what the right hon Gentleman. said about declining manpower, and in view of the stock position, will he do everything he can to see that the export position is not entirely jeopardised?