HC Deb 01 February 1960 vol 616 c612
18. Mr. Wyatt

asked the Minister of Power what is the percentage of sulphur contained in fuel oil used in this country from Middle East sources; and what proportion of the fuel oil burned in this country comes from Middle East sources.

Mr. George

On the assumption that the hon. Member intends to include fuel oil made in this country from Middle East crudes, the answer to the first part of the Question is about 3 per cent. on average. The answer to the second part is about 75 per cent.

Mr. Wyatt

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the sulphur burnt in fuel oil from Middle East sources is just as harmful as that from coal burnt in non-smokeless appliances, and will he consult his colleagues with a view to amending the Clean Air Act so that oil installations burning Middle East oil are not automatically exempt from the provisions of that Act and so that coal is able to compete on equal and fair terms with oil?

Mr. George

I agree with the hon. Member that fuel oil is about equal to coal in terms of affecting the atmosphere. But one cannot generalise. Fuel oils, like coals, range widely in sulphur content. On average, each ton of Middle East fuel oil has twice as much sulphur as a ton of coal, but fuel oil has a higher calorific value than coal and each ton of fuel oil does the work of 1½–2 tons of coal. I am advised that the comparison goes, if anything, against coal, but I will take note of the suggestion made by the hon. Gentleman in his supplementary question.

Mr. Lipton

Can the hon. Gentleman give an assurance that it is the general policy of the Government to rely as little as possible on the supply of oil from Middle East sources and to increase the purchase of oil from other sources?

Mr. George

That is an entirely different question.

Forward to