10 JULY 1941, Page 2

Coal for Private Consumers

The Government cannot be congratulated on its handling of the coal question. Last winter there was no lack of coal in the country, but there was much suffering from inadequate distribution. Now for the coming winter a shortage is fore- seen which might have been avoided if miners had been teserved or if even now they were brought back from other industries and from the Army. The amount of coal which will be saved by the Order issued last week by the Secretary for Mines will be a relatively small addition to industry and is likely to cause much distress among consumers. The normal procedure would be to allow consumers to build up stocks in their homes during the summer to avoid strain on transport in the coming winter. Deliveries will not be allowed at all unless a consumer has less than two tons of coal and one of coke in an importing area, or less than two tons in all in a self-supporting area. Not more than one ton may be delivered in any month, and this amount is not guaranteed. This means that there will be competition for deliveries of coal in the winter among all consumers, in- cluding those who might have accumulated enough to carry them through the cold season. No distinction is made between classes of consumers—between those who have large premises and those who have small, or those who have gas and electricity, and those who have neither. Unless something better is done there will be a grievous muddle about coal before the winter is through.