HC Deb 24 March 1958 vol 585 cc21-2
36. Mr. Palmer

asked the Paymaster-General if, in view of the abundance of small coal, the Government will sponsor a national energy policy designed to ensure the maximum utilisation of indigenous fuel resources.

Sir I. Horobin

It is my noble Friend's policy to make the maximum use of indigenous resources of fuel provided this can be done economically and in conditions of fair competition between fuels whether native or imported. The present abundance of small coal arises in part from circumstances of a temporary nature—such as the slower expansion of the national economy—and in part from some unbalance between production and demand of the different sizes of coal. I dealt with the latter problem in answer to Questions put by the hon. Member for Barnsley (Mr. Mason), on 27th January and 3rd February.

Mr. Palmer

Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that this is a far more serious question than his reply would lead us to suppose? Does it not deserve far more serious consideration by the Government than it has had up till now?

Sir I. Horobin

I am not sure what the hon. Member means by "serious". The main thing is to get it right.

Mr. Nabarro

If it is the policy of the Government to encourage the use of indigenous fuels, can my hon. Friend say why the Treasury puts a Purchase Tax of 60 per cent. on gas and electricity space and water heating appliances using indigenous fuel but no Purchase Tax at all on equivalent oil appliances using imported fuels?

Sir I. Horobin

That question should properly be put to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor. I know, and I think my hon. Friend knows, what his answer would be at this time of the year.