HC Deb 11 June 1951 vol 488 cc1647-8
19. Mr. Watkinson

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he will make a statement on future supplies of phenol to industry.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

Natural phenol is a product of coal tar, which is a by-product of the carbonisation of coal. The increase of carbonisation in recent years has given a greater output of natural phenol, but the demand has risen even more; much of it must, therefore, now be met by an expansion in the manufacture of synthetic phenol. I understand that the chemical industry is greatly increasing its synthetic phenol plant, which should soon suffice to meet all the demands. In the meantime, exports of phenol have been stopped, except for small quantities required by hospitals abroad.

Mr. Watkinson

Is the Minister aware that phenol is an essential component in many articles vital to the re-armament industry, and that the increasing demand is an important problem which is causing great concern? Can he do something about the immediate problem?

Mr. Noel-Baker

It is the re-armament demand which has caused such a sharp increase, but, as I have said, every step is being taken to accelerate the production of plant for increasing supply.