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Coal Imports

Volume 527: debated on Monday 17 May 1954

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asked the Minister of Fuel and Power how much coal was imported in the year to 30th April, 1954, and at what total cost; what were the countries of origin; how much of the coal imports came from East or West Germany or Poland; and how much more coal he proposes to import, or has already consented to import, during the period 1st May, 1954, to 30th April, 1955.

Approximately 792,000 tons at a landed cost of about £5 million, the main sources being Belgium, France and Western Germany. None came from Eastern Germany, 67,000 tons came from Western Germany and 2,300 tons from Poland. Under present arrangements approximately 200,000 tons have yet to come in. My right hon. Friend has not yet announced any future import programme.

In view of the fact that the whole of this imported coal is being sold by the National Coal Board at a substantial loss, can my hon. Friend say to what extent the losses, either already incurred or envisaged, have been taken into account by the Coal Board in its recent and latest increase in the price of domestic coal?

The losses on imported coal are part of the items which make up the budget which has recently been dealt with by the National Coal Board's rise in prices.

Is my hon. Friend really satisfied that the importation of this coal is necessary?

Yes, Sir. It is in pursuance of the policy announced by my right hon. Friend on 13th July.