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Fuel Overseers

Volume 486: debated on Monday 9 April 1951

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asked the Minister of Fuel and Power the number of fuel overseers and their total annual cost in salaries and expenses.

There are 1,459 local fuel overseers, of whom more than 1,100 spend a part only of their time on their fuel duties. The local fuel overseers and their staffs are employed by local authorities, to whom the Government repay the costs reasonably incurred in the maintenance of the service. For this purpose, £920,000 is provided in my Department's Vote this year; £110,000 is provided, in the Votes of other Departments, for common services, such as office accommodation and stationery.

Is the Minister aware that in 1913, before these gentlemen were appointed and when there was hardly any mechanisation, this country produced 287 million tons of coal and exported about 94 million tons?

Yes, Sir, and the figures fell, under private enterprise, from 289 million in 1913 to 174 million in 1945.

Can my right hon. Friend say whether it is or is not part of the duty of local fuel officers to deal with the complaints of household consumers if such consumers do not obtain satisfaction from the coal merchant to whom they have taken their complaints in the first instance?