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Volume 529: debated on Monday 28 June 1954

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asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what contribution he expects can be made by domestic coke supplies to the anticipated shortage of house coal next winter; and if he will give an assurance that coke will continue unrationed at least until 31st March, 1955.


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what steps he is now taking to encourage sales of coke for domestic use, in view of the risk of a shortage of house coal next winter.

As the House is aware, I have removed restrictions on the sale of coke and do not contemplate their re-imposition. So far, this summer sales of gas coke to the smaller consumer show an increase of 17 per cent. over last year, and coke supplies should materially assist the fuel position next winter.

Will my right hon. Friend make it clear that many millions of modern solid fuel-burning appliances which have been installed in the last five years were designed to burn smokeless fuel, notably coke, and that many of these appliances are still being used to burn inferior grades of coal? Will he make it clear that he has removed all the restrictions on coke to encourage the use of smokeless fuel and to economise overall by the best use of these appliances?

Yes. I am grateful to my hon. Friend for giving me yet another opportunity to point out that these improved appliances reach their maximum efficiency when burning coke and that coke is the best of the smokeless fuels now freely available to the public.

Is the Minister aware that the best way of encouraging domestic consumers to stock coke during the summer is to have a price concession similar to that for house coal? Is my right hon. Friend also aware that anything he can do to encourage the Gas Council and other distributors to give such a concession and thus relieve the pressure on their own storage space during the summer will be most helpful?

Why does the Minister put up with this fuss every year about the shortage of coal and other fuels? Now that the Government have got rid of food rationing, why not allow the free importation of coal in the same way as we buy anything else abroad when there is a shortage?

Until more progress is made in our economic affairs, we cannot lightly consider a considerable importation of coal in view of the demand for foreign exchange.