HC Deb 24 February 1942 vol 378 cc13-4
32. Mr. Ammon

asked the Secretary for Mines whether he is aware that, during the recent cold weather and the present time, hundreds of people in the borough of Camberwell have been without coal; that this particularly applies to dwellers in flats and other small consumers; and whether he has any proposals to meet this serious hardship?

The Secretary for Mines (Mr. David Grenfell)

The severe weather of the past few weeks has greatly increased the demand for domestic coal in London, as in other areas, while at times adding much to other difficulties of delivery. In spite of the exceptionally heavy deliveries which merchants have achieved it has been hard to keep pace with the demand in certain parts of London, including Camberwell, and with my approval special measures have been taken by the House Coal Officer for supplying flat dwellers and small consumers generally. The Camberwell Borough Council, for whose co-operation in this matter I am grateful, have written to express their appreciation of what he has done.

Mr. Ammon

Is my hon. Friend aware that the extemporised arrangement of the borough council is not sufficient to meet the situation and that there is danger of rioting?

Mr. Grenfell

We are in very close touch indeed with the House Coal Officer and have information regarding conditions at Camberwell.

Mr. Lawson

Is it a question of shortage of coal or just of distribution?

Mr. Grenfell

It is both. There is not sufficient coal that can be brought into certain areas. There is a shortage of production and transport difficulties which interfere with supplies, and there is a good deal to be done in improving distribution where supplies are available.

Mr. Shinwell

Did not my hon. Friend say some time ago that he would be able to meet such a contingency as this, of which he has been warned?

Mr. Grenfell

I think we have met the contingency very well. There is no general shortage of coal in the country.

Mr. Watkins

Does my hon. Friend realise that this trouble is not confined to Camberwell? In Hackney a merchant with 6,000 orders has only 10 tons of coal to supply them.

Mr. Speaker

That has nothing to do with Camberwell.

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