HC Deb 22 June 1959 vol 607 c847
30. Mr. Palmer

asked the Paymaster-General what fuel costs per unit sent out in each case have been allowed for in the estimated total costs of generation of .5d. for coal-fired power stations and .65d. for nuclear stations.

Mr. Maudling

In coal-fired power stations now being planned the cost is expected to range from 0.35d. to 0.50d. per unit according to distance from the coalfield. For the latest designs of nuclear stations, the cost is about 0.17d. per unit.

Mr. Palmer

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the reliability of these estimates depends greatly on the price of the fuel as a variable, whether it be coal or nuclear fuel, and also that the opinions of experts vary tremendously on this point? Is he satisfied that he has the advantage of the most comprehensive advice?

Mr. Maudling

I agree that all estimates are subject to a margin of error, but I can assure the hon. Gentleman that we have the advantage of very comprehensive advice from a remarkably efficient range of people in these matters.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

Since the Minister admitted last week that the cost of generating electricity by coal is no greater than generating it by oil, will he support proposals made for converting oil-fired stations for the use of coal, thus saving the foreign exchange required to purchase the oil and diverting a grave social waste by the premature collapse of pits?

Mr. Maudling

I do not think that arises from the Question on the Order Paper, which refers to coal and nuclear stations.