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Coal Sales (Grading Complaints)

Volume 527: debated on Tuesday 4 May 1954

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asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware of the extent to which coal merchants are selling low grade coal at high grade prices contrary to the provisions of the Merchandise Marks Acts; and if he will initiate prosecutions, in view of the fact that the general interests of the country are affected by this.

No, Sir. Overcharging and undercharging are not offences under the Merchandise Marks Acts. The prices of coal are fixed under the Retail Coal Prices Order, 1941, and complaints about coal prices should be addressed to local fuel overseers.

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that I complained about quality and not about price? Is he correct in saying that if a customer is sold Grade B coal at Grade A prices that customer has no redress?

It is conceivable that some redress could be brought about under the Merchandise Marks Acts, but complaints about the price charged for particular grades of coal would be better addressed either to the local fuel overseer or in the form of Questions put down to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Fuel and Power.

Can the right hon. Gentleman indicate to what extent it is compulsory on retailers to issue to the customer a bill showing the quality and the price per cwt.? Is the Minister aware that many retailers are not doing this, and that therefore it is impossible for the customer to have any redress at all?

That question should be addressed to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Fuel and Power.