HC Deb 20 February 1956 vol 549 cc7-8
21. Mr. D. Price

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power to what extent the increased use of oil and later of nuclear energy will make it unnecessary to plan for a higher level of coal output in the future than at present being won.

Mr. Aubrey Jones

Not only is an early increase in coal output of vital importance, but if the growing energy requirements of the country are to be met, for as long ahead as we can see we shall continue to need considerably more coal than we are now getting. There is grave risk that without this extra coal the rate of economic advance which we have known since the war would be slowed down. It is for this reason that, as announced on 17th February last by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, there will be a higher level of investment in coal production in 1956 than in 1955, even though some reduction has had to be made in other parts of the National Coal Board's general programme.

Mr. Price

Will my right hon. Friend give the greatest publicity to his reply so as to place beyond any doubt the fact that the coal industry has a great future, and to disabuse certain organs of the Press and certain sections of public opinion of the idea that it is dying?

Mr. Jones

I should certainly like the widest possible publicity given to the Answer which I have just made. I strongly deprecate any impression that the coal industry is dying or is one without any future. It has a great future, and I hope that if we can give it such a future, we can improve upon present performance.