Prices, Merthyr Tydfil And Exeter
asked the Minister of Fuel and Power the price per ton of domestic coal in Merthyr Tydfil and Exeter.
Railborne Group 4 coals, 106s. 7d. per ton and 141s. 8d. per ton respectively.
Is my right hon. Friend aware of the great hardship that is caused to old-age pensioners and others on small incomes by this disparity in price? As one of the principal products of Devonshire, namely, milk, is provided at a uniform price all over the country, why cannot we have the same where coal is concerned?
This is a question which is raised periodically in the districts remote from the coalfields, but, of course, coal weighs very much more than milk.
Is it not related to the fact that one is a private concern and the other is a State concern?
No, in fairness I do not think it is. This is something which has existed since the coal industry began.
Domestic Purchasing Restrictions (Relaxation)
asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he will make a further statement on the possibility of relaxing restrictions on the purchase of domestic coal during the summer months.
Yes, Sir. The maximum permitted quantities for the year will remain unchanged, but I am making a direction which will enable householders in the North to buy up to 30 cwt. during the summer as compared with 20 cwt. last summer. In the South, householders will be able to buy up to 34 cwt. as compared with 24 cwt. last summer.
Am I to understand the Minister as saying that the South is to have more than the North, or did he get it the wrong way round, because the North is colder? But apart from that, is my right hon. Friend aware that householders will be grateful to the miners, to the National Coal Board and to himself for this improvement?
It has always been the case that while the total permitted quantity is greater in the North, because it is colder there, the amount which householders in the South have been allowed to buy in the summer months has been larger because they are further from the coalfields and because there are greater transport difficulties in the winter.
Is there to be any price reduction in the coal supplies available in the summer months?
That is a matter for the Coal Board.
Prices, West Cornwall
asked the Minister of Fuel and Power the current prices of domestic coals sold by distributors in West Cornwall.
143s. 7d. per ton for Group 4 unscreened seaborne house coal.
Is the Minister aware that this represents about £2 a ton more than the equivalent-priced coal in the North of England? Will he bear in mind that this morning I have received, from an old-age pensioner in my constituency, a letter stating that he finds it very difficult—as they all do—to buy any coal, and will he consider recommending the Coal Board to institute an even price for domestic coal throughout the country?
If the hon. Member's suggestion were adopted it would mean that there would have to be an increase in the price of coal—even for old-age pensioners—in the areas surrounding the coalfields and in many of those areas where the weather is colder and more coal is needed.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that the recent price increases may mean an increase of 2s. or 4s. a ton in certain grades of coal in places like West Cornwall? Will he urge the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation to do something about tapering rail charges?
That is a different question.