HC Deb 18 November 1937 vol 329 cc568-9
48. Mr. Edwards

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, as representing the Lord President of the Council, whether, in view of the far-reaching changes which have taken place since the establishment of the Fuel Research Board in 1917, he will consider amending the conditions governing its procedure in connection with the testing of oil from coal plants, particularly the limitation imposed on the director of fuel research, in paragraph 1 of the Department's published scheme, and under which his Department cannot test any plant unless it is of such a size that its performance will be comparable with that of a similar plant operating on a commercial scale?

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Earl Winterton)

The hon. Member, no doubt, refers to the conditions under which tests of plants for low temperature carbonisation of coal are undertaken by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research at the cost of public funds. It is one of the conditions that if tests are so paid for, the results shall be made available to the public. The conditions were laid down in 1924 on the recommendation of the Advisory Council of the Department. In 1934 the clause governing the publication of results of tests was modified, but experience has otherwise indicated no need for amendment. On the other hand, it has shown the value of the condition that before a test is made at the public expense, a plant must be available of such a size that its performance will be comparable with that of a similar plant operating on a commercial scale. My noble Friend does not, therefore, propose to take steps to amend the conditions.

Mr. Edwards

Does the Minister know that in the archives of the Fuel Research Board are details of a process which, if successful, it is claimed, would save more than £30,000,000 per year to the State; and in the circumstances does he not think that it is worth while, at the public expense, making a special investigation into this case?

Earl Winterton

If the hon. Gentleman wants to refer to a specific case, I shall be very glad to look into it and to discuss the matter further with my noble Friend, but there does not appear, on the evidence available at present, any need for altering the regulations.

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