asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether it will be possible to relax restrictions on the purchase of domestic coal during the summer months.
I fear that restrictions cannot yet be abolished, but I am considering certain minor adjustments.
Does the Minister appreciate the enormous advantage to householders in security and transport in getting the coal out to them in the summer?
Yes, that is one of the points which I am specially considering.
Will the Minister bear in mind, when he does relax the restriction on the amount of coal which house- holders are allowed to stock in the summer, that in large cities like Birmingham, one constituency of which the right hon. Gentleman represents, many thousands of people live in rooms and have no place to stock their coal? Will he, therefore, encourage small retail merchants to have plentiful stocks, including some at the cheaper prices, in order to prepare for the needs of these people for next winter?
That is in my mind. It is also true that in the centre of Birmingham there are a large number of houses with good cellar accommodation.
Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that many people with small incomes find it difficult to find the money to stock up, even if they have storage space, and will he try, when thinking about this new proposal, to do something to help them?
That, of course, has always been the case and is one of the difficulties. That is one of the reasons why those people who have the cellars and also the financial capacity to stock up in the summer are not only assisting themselves but are freeing the system of distribution to look after—in winter—the others who are not in that position.
Further to what the hon. Lady has said, will the Minister endeavour to persuade his colleagues to enable old age pensioners to be able to buy coal in summer or winter?