HC Deb 28 March 1960 vol 620 cc934-5
22. Mr. Ellis Smith

asked the Minis-tea- of Power whether adequate supplies of smokeless fuel now exist to enable the provisions of the Clean Air Act to be complied with.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Power (Mr. J. C. George)

I would refer the hon. Member to the first part of the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for Bilston (Mr. R. Edwards) on 23rd March.

Mr. Ellis Smith

We are constantly receiving replies of that character. While I am not doubting the validity of the Answer just given, may I ask the Parliamentary Secretary whether he is aware that in the localities there are not adequate supplies? Is it not a fact that the National Coal Board has now been carrying out research and development on this for ten years? If so, has not the time arrived when there should be large-scale distribution?

Mr. George

I have no doubt that from time to time during the winter local shortages have taken place, but over the country as a whole supplies have been adequate over the past winter. With regard to the Board's experiments on smokeless fuels, they have reached a stage now When two pilot stations are being built, and the evidence is that in future they will make a large contribution towards the supply of smokeless fuels.

Mrs. Slater

Does the hon. Gentleman not agree that the setting up of these pilot plants is rather late in the day and should have taken place long ago? Is he aware that local authorities are constantly being pressed to schedule more clean air areas and they are handicapped every time by the fact that smokeless fuel just is not available?

Mr. George

Research can be a very laborious job and may extend over a long period. My right hon. Friend is satisfied that the Coal Board has pressed ahead as far as it can with research leading to the erection of new pilot plants. As for the latter part of the hon. Lady's supplementary question, no local authority has had an application for the establishment of a smokeless area turned down because of a shortage of smokeless fuel.