HC Deb 03 December 1956 vol 561 cc875-6
36. Mr. Dodds

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he will make a statement on the oil situation; what are the prospects for the next few months; and what is the advice he has given to those firms that have supported the Government's recommendation to switch from coal- to oil-burning plant.

Mr. Aubrey Jones

As the House knows, the United States Government have authorised the American oil industry to co-ordinate its efforts on an emergency basis to supply oil to Western Europe. I am sure the House will join with me in welcoming this step. Some time must elapse, however, before the full measure of this relief can be felt, and there is no reason to revise the estimate of the net shortfall in Western European oil supplies as of the order of 25 per cent.

There has been no change in the Government's long-term policy of advising the use of oil wherever it can be economically justified. But, until oil supplies are back to normal, it is clearly in the national interest to avoid further switches from coal to oil and, indeed, to ease the call on oil supplies wherever practicable by the use of alternative fuels.

Mr. Dodds

Is it still the policy of the Government to give subsidies to firms who introduce oil-burning instead of coal-fired plant? Does the Minister not appreciate that, with regard to petrol, in announcing the scheme so far ahead he has himself invited trouble concerning our limited stocks of petrol?

Mr. Jones

I do not think that the two parts of the hon. Member's supplementary question are quite related to one another. In answer to the first part, it follows that if for the moment the oil conversion scheme is held up loans will be held up too.

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