HC Deb 22 June 1959 vol 607 cc849-50
34. Mr. Owen

asked the Paymaster-General what steps are being taken to assess the national fuel requirements in view of the changing nature of supply and the impact of scientific development; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. Maudling

My noble Friend keeps the national fuel requirements under constant review in the light of all relevant factors.

Mr. Owen

That reply hardly answers the import of my Question. In view of that Answer, does not the Minister realise the imperative need of a national assessment of our fuel and power requirements, if only to avoid the probability of wasteful capital expenditure and the misdirection of scientific research?

Mr. Maudling

I think both sides of the House agree that a national assessment should be constantly going on. The only difference is that the conclusions reached by the Government and the conclusions reached by back benchers opposite are different.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

Can the Minister not answer the supplementary question that I put earlier on this matter? Will he not support the proposal for converting oil-fired stations to coal, in view of the probability that the nation will make great gains?

Mr. Maudling

On two occasions already, as the right hon. Gentleman will be aware, arrangements have been made to scale down previous plans for the consumption of oil in power stations. We should thank the electricity industry and the oil industry for their co-operation in this matter.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Can that process not be carried a great deal further with great advantage to the nation?

Mr. Maudling

It is a matter for the Generating Board, which has entered into commercial contracts which the Government have never instructed it to break.

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