§ 17. Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to the difficulties of the Hampton Urban District Council in obtaining supplies of coal for their sewage disposal works, and to the possibility of the works stopping and the sewage overflow polluting the water supply of London; and, if so, what steps he proposes to take?
I am informed that the requirements of the Hampton Urban District Council of coal have been receiving attention from the Railway Executive Committee, and I understand that arrangements have been made for the immediate delivery of an adequate supply of coal to the council.
§ 20. Mr. WILLIAM THORNE
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that Messrs. F. B. Cameron and Company trade under the following names: The Colliery Owners' Association, the Co-operative Coal Company, the Newcastle Colliery Owners, the Great Northern Coal Company, the Midland Coal Company, and the Great Western Coal Company; if he is aware that, in consequence of the coal which is being delivered in London at about 12s. per ton over and above the price of February, 1914, gas companies, factory owners, corporations, and private consumers of coal are paying an extra rate of about £154,000 per week; if he is aware that a number of generating stations in London are finding a difficulty to obtain coal for generating purposes; and if he intends taking any action in the matter?
I understand that F. B. Cameron and Company, Limited, own a controlling interest in the Newcastle Colliery Owners, Limited. The other companies named do not appear to be registered under the Companies Acts, and I have no information with regard to them. I am not in a position to say exactly how much more in the aggregate is being paid for coal at the present moment by the various classes of consumers mentioned, as compared with a year ago. The question of the rise in the retail price of household coal is being investigated by the Retail Coal Prices Committee. As regards coal for gas and electricity undertakings, the Government have arranged for the interned enemy steamers in the United Kingdom to carry coal to London largely 538 for the use of undertakings of this kind and of other public utility bodies.
§ 47. Mr. WATT
asked the Prime Minister whether the Committee set up to consider the coal question will have power by their remit to consider the advisability of stopping all export of coal during the War; and, if not, will the Government consider this point, in view of the present price of coal both for domestic and manufacturing consumption and of the shortage of ship ping tonnage?
My right hon. Friend has asked me to reply to this question. There is nothing in the terms of reference to the Retail Coal Prices Committee which would preclude them from considering this point, if and in so far as it appeared to them to bear on the subject of their inquiry.
§ 48. Mr. NEVILLE
asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that coal freights from the Tyne to London hive recently been raised to 17s. 6d. per ton; and whether, in making the present arrangement of intrusting the management of and the fixing of freights for the thirty-four interned German steamers recently made available for coasting traffic to a committee of shipowners interested in maintaining freights, any steps were taken to prevent such an arrangement having the effect of keeping up and raising freights on food-stuffs and coal required by the population of London?
My right hon. Friend has requested me to answer this question. No such rate of freight as that mentioned by the hon. Member has been paid in respect of any interned steamer, nor its it true that the management of and fixing of freights for these steamers have been, entrusted, as alleged in the question, to a committee of shipowners interested in maintaining freights.
§ 55. Mr. MACMASTER
asked the Prime Minister who are the members of the committee appointed to consider the difficulties connected with the getting, loading, carrying, unloading, and distribution of the coal supplies of the nation; whether that committee comprises adequate representation of the mass of the consumers of the country; and what progress the committee has made in the prevention of delays and the relief of congestion in traffic with a view to the more speedy delivery of the coal supplies, and the consequent diminution of cost to the consumers?
My right hon. Friend has asked me to reply to this question. The composition of the committee and the terms of reference were stated in a reply to a question by my hon. Friend the Member for the Dartford Division of Kent on Thursday last. I am not yet in a position to say what progress the committee have made in their investigations, but I am sure that they are fully impressed with the urgency of the problem referred to them.