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Price Increases (Protest)

Volume 531: debated on Monday 26 July 1954

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asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what representations he has received protesting against the inequitable price increases applied to house coal, as compared with the then current prices for industrial coal at the time of the last increases in house coal prices; and what factors he had regard to when sanctioning the last house coal price increase in the spring of 1954.

A protest was lodged by the Domestic Coal Consumers' Council. The basic factor in the price of a particular coal is its quality but the increases on 3rd May took account of other factors, including the relative scarcity of large coals. There was no discrimination against house coals for which the average price increases were about the same as those for comparable supplies to industrial and other consumers.

Is my hon. Friend aware that the complaint is now widespread from domestic consumers and their organisations that a disproportionately large amount was added to the cost of house coal, and that industrial coal did not so suffer? To allay these anxieties, will my hon. Friend undertake to publish a schedule of comparative statistics showing that the increases in the price of coal were, indeed, equitably distributed between industry and domestic consumers?

I think I can reassure my hon. Friend, so long as he is dealing with comparable coals. In the case of the main users of large coal the price for household coal was raised by 4s. 4d., for railways by 4s. 4½d. a ton and for coastal and trawler bunkers by 4s. 8d. a ton.