HC Deb 23 July 1963 vol 681 cc1261-2
Q9. Mr. Warbey

asked the Prime Minister what steps he has taken to co ordinate the action of Ministers concerned in order to ensure the publication, without delay, of official fuel and power targets, allocated between the appropriate industries, for each of the next 10 years and for the decade as a whole.

The Prime Minister

The co-ordination of the action of Ministers is secured through the normal process of administration. As regards the latter part of the Question, it would not be in the national interest for the Government to predetermine the precise level of production for each fuel industry.

Mr. Warbey

First, may I thank the Prime Minister for confirming that he does not carry these figures in his head, because they do not exist even on paper. Secondly, I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman would tell us how it is possible for the two main variable elements in this equation—namely, the nuclear power programme for which no target is fixed beyond 1968 and the oil industry which is under the control of private enterprise, which is not precisely concerned with the public good—can be co-ordinated with the national plan unless a national plan is worked out?

The Prime Minister

I think that our object must be to secure supplies of energy which are sufficient to sustain economic growth, on terms that will assist that growth, A degree of competition between various fuels can be very healthy, and indeed has had very good results both in design and production.

Sir C. Osborne

Will my right hon. Friend remember that when a fuel committee of this kind was arranged by a Socialist Government in 1951 every forecast that it made was proved wrong, and that these highfalutin forecasting Government bodies nearly always are wrong and product; bad results?

The Prime Minister

I shall bear all these things in mind, but I do not think that this was the only forecast made between 1945 and 1951 that was wrong.

Mr. H. Wilson

Is the Prime Minister aware that the approved programme for electricity generation made by the present Ministry of Power only two years ago has had to be thrown out by the N.I.C. on the ground that the Ministry's official target for electricity production bears no relation to the Government's newly accepted 4 per cent. target of expansion?

The Prime Minister

Our purpose must be to produce sufficient supplies. To lay down, as I am asked to do, a precise figure for each without regard to changing conditions, techniques and competition between them would be a mistake.