HC Deb 20 April 1953 vol 514 cc623-4
16. Mr. Shepherd

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power the average capital investment per 1 million tons of coal raised in the United Kingdom during the last three years.

Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd

About £140,000.

Mr. Shepherd

Is it not a fact that this sum is only a small fraction of the amount spent in France and Germany for the same purpose, and is not this the real reason for our failure to produce coal? Is it not ridiculous to spend £48 million per annum upon capital equipment and £200 million on power stations and gas works?

Mr. Lloyd

It is difficult to make a direct comparison between the capital expenditure on collieries in this country and in European countries, because they are computed upon different bases. For example, in some European countries the expenditure on electric power stations for the service of collieries is included in the figures of colliery investment, whereas in this country it is not, being carried upon the B.E.A.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Can the Minister say how far investment has been restricted in the last three years by shortages of steel and of specialist mining engineers for planning purposes?

Mr. Lloyd

I would say not much by the shortage of steel, but much more by the shortage of specialist mining engineers. I would not like to give the impression from my earlier supplementary that I or the National Coal Board or anybody in this House is satisfied with the present rate of capital investment in the coal industry. It is far too low.