HC Deb 28 April 1958 vol 587 cc2-4
6. Mr. Oliver

asked the Paymaster-General whether, before any further approval is given to develop sites for opencast coal working in Derbyshire, steps will be taken to dispose of the large accumulation of stocks of opencast coal occupying useful and important sites in the county.

Sir I. Horobin

No, Sir. The surplus stocks are mainly of small coal and the opencast sites provide a useful output of large coal which is still scarce. The National Coal Board is doing all that it can to find new outlets for the surplus of small coal.

Mr. Oliver

Is the hon. Gentleman aware—I know that he must be—of the great annoyance, inconvenience and nuisance caused by opencast coal mining? In addition, has not the county to provide space to house the stuff? Having regard to the enormous stocks of this type of coal now held, does it not appear that more and more sites will be required for this purpose, again occupying many acres? What is the emergency justifying opencast coal mining at the present time?

Sir I. Horobin

As has been explained previously, there is still a shortage of large coal suitable for domestic use. In fact, the proportion of suitable coal which is produced by opencast methods is slightly greater than that produced by deep mining. Therefore, as long as the country wants more domestic coal, it is exceedingly difficult to do without opencast coal.

Mr. Hastings

Is there any exact definition of "small coal", and if not, would it not be very helpful if one could be given so that people could know definitely whether they were able to make use of small coal or not?

Sir I. Horobin

The definition is exact, but perhaps it would be better if I wrote to the hon. Member.

Mr. J. C. Jennings

Is my hon. Friend aware that the decision to defer the working of the Stanton opencast site in South Derbyshire is most welcome to the people in the area, and will he continue to make such welcome decisions?

Sir I. Horobin

I do not think I ought to embark on decisions about individual sites in answering supplementary questions.

Mr. Ede

Will the hon. Gentleman circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT the definition of "small coal" which he is to give my hon. Friend the Member for Barking (Mr. Hastings) so that we may know that it is something better than "smaller than large coal"?