HC Deb 30 January 1947 vol 432 cc1098-9
31. Mr. Sutcliffe

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power to what extent industrial consumption of coal has now been converted to consumption of oil, following his recent appeal for such conversion to be undertaken wherever possible; and what further steps are being taken to facilitate such conversion.

Mr. Shinwell

From the initiation of the coal to oil conversion campaign up to 31st December last, plant consuming coal at the rate of 865,000 tons a year has been converted to oil burning. As regards the second part of the Question, bulk orders for the necessary storage, distribution and burning equipment have been placed, and every possible step is being taken to expedite its delivery.

Mr. Sutcliffe

Is it not the fact that conversion would be on a much greater scale if the cost of oil was not so prohibitive, which involves manufacturers in greatly added running costs, and what plans have the Government in mind for dealing with that aspect of the problem?

Mr. Shinwell

We have, as the hon. Member should be aware, provided for a rebate in this connection, and I am led to believe that the cost of oil is not regarded as the deterrent factor in this matter.

Major Peter Roberts

How do these figures tally with the estimates the Minister gave on 24th July when he said he was hoping to save 2,qoo,ooo extra tons of coal? The figures seem to be less. Are we therefore to assume that there is a gap in the coal budget?

Mr. Shinwell

The hon. Member is quite right; I had hoped for a greater saving as a result of conversion to oil, but owing to difficulties in respect of plant tankage and the like, we were unable to effect that saving.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

Is not this conversion from coal to oil evidence of the complete failure of the right hon. Gentleman and his Department to provide coal?