HC Deb 25 May 1965 vol 713 cc227-8
39. Mr. Shinwell

asked the Minister of Power what are the productive activities of the National Coal Board, other than coal production; and what is their total valuation.

Mr. Frederick Lee

The main activities outside coal production comprise carbonisation, fuel processing, brickworks, workshops and housing. These and certain other non-colliery assets stood in the Board's 1963–64 Accounts at about £150 million.

Mr. Shinwell

Will my right hon. Friend say which of these non-mining productive industries are profitable?

Mr. Lee

I imagine that the Coal Board's large brick production is profitable. [Interruption.] Hon. Members opposite do not have a monopoly in dropping bricks. The Board is seeking to diversify activities a great deal more and we will do what we can to assist it there.

Mr. Ridley

Does the right hon. Gentleman really say that he does not know how much of an investment of £150 million is or is not profitable? Is not that an extraordinary admission for him to make?

Mr. Lee

Not in the very least. I was saying that practically all of it was profitable, and I was trying to tell my hon. Friend which parts of it were even more profitable than others.

Captain W. Elliot

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what is the return on that capital of £150 million?

Mr. Lee

Not without notice.