HC Deb 06 July 1959 vol 608 c879
28. Mr. R. Edwards

asked the Paymaster-General to what extent his Department, apart from the specific work undertaken by the National Coal Board is developing or furthering research into the uses of coal, particularly as a source of chemicals.

Mr. Maudling

As the hon. Member will be aware, this question is under examination by the Wilson Committee. In the meantime, experimental and development work, and work on design studies, is being pressed forward by the Ministry in conjunction with the Gas Council, the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, the British Coal Utilisation Research Association and private industry.

Mr. Edwards

Can this work be expedited, since we are still importing vast supplies of chemicals which can be produced from British surplus coal? Has the Paymaster-General considered the Charles Turner project whereby coal is boiled for the extraction of chemical by-products and from which process, it is claimed, will flow power as cheap as water?

Mr. Maudling

My noble Friend recognises the need for speed in this matter, and it was with that thought in mind that he appointed the Wilson Committee. I shall make sure that the Wilson Committee's attention is drawn to what the hon. Gentleman has said.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what percentage of turnover is spent on research into the uses of coal, and does he regard it as satisfactory?

Mr. Maudling

I could not say without notice.