HC Deb 15 December 1936 vol 318 cc2270-2
55. Miss WARD

asked the Secretary for Mines what degree of commercial success has to be attained by the experimental plant at Billingham before the Government will consider the establishment of similar plants in the Special Areas?


I am not quite clear what my hon. Friend has in mind, but I do not think I can say more at present than that, so far as I arts aware, the results of the hydrogenation plant at Billingham do not as yet form an adequate basis on which decisions can be reached as to possible extensions elsewhere.


In view of the fact that the erection of such plants in the Special Areas has been urged in each report of the Commissioner, may I ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman when we may expect some kind of report on the matter?


Did not the speech made by the chairman of Imperial Chemical Industries some time ago give some reasonable basis upon which one might expect a report from the Government as to whether it is a commercial success?


I cannot go beyond what I said in the reply, but I shall certainly look up the speech, or perhaps the hon. Lady will send me a copy of it.


Can the hon. and gallant Gentleman say what he means and what his Department means by "a commercial success"?


No one ought to know, what the Department means better than the hon. Gentleman himself, who presided over it.

56. Miss WARD

asked the Secretary for Mines what data are available in the Mines Department as to what coalfields would be most suitable for the production of oil from coal?


The suitability of a particular coalfield for the production of oil from coal depends primarily on the constitution of the coal, including, among other features, the proportion of volatile matter it contains. Such data have already, to a large extent, been made available by the coal survey which the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research is making covering all the coalfields of the country, and which is still continuing.


If the experiment which has been initiated is a commercial success, may we expect the establishment of such plants in the Special Areas, and whether the coalfields in the Special Areas would be suitable?


The hon. Lady started her supplementary question with a hypothetical question, and that I cannot answer.

58. Mr. DAGGAR

asked the Secretary for Mines the total quantity of petrol produced by hydrogenation in the United Kingdom since the commencement of operations of the Billingham plant; the proportion of that quantity which has been derived from the direct hydrogenation of coal as distinct from other materials; the revenue which would have been raised on a quantity of imported petrol corresponding to the total produced by hydrogenation; and the estimated amount paid in wages to miners for the production of the coal converted into petrol


As the answer is rather long and contains a number of figures, I will, with the hon. Member's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the answer:

By the courtesy of Imperial Chemical Industries, Limited, I am able to say that up to the end of November approximately 170,000 tons or about 50 million gallons of motor spirit had been produced at Billingham. The company is not prepared, for commercial reasons, to state the actual proportion obtained from coal as distinct from coal tar oils, which are the only other raw materials used, but they inform me that the proportion was a large one. On the quantity of petrol mentioned the revenue on an equivalent amount of imported petrol would he about £1,670,000. For the reasons given I am not able to supply the information asked for in the last part of the question. It is, however, the case that the total quantity of coal used at Billingham in connection with the hydrogenation plant up to the end of November was 650,000 tons. Practically all this coal came from Durham, and it is estimated that on this quantity the amount paid to miners in wages including the value of allowances in kind, was about £280,000.