HC Deb 12 December 1967 vol 756 cc195-6
6. Mr. Willey

asked the Minister of Power whether a decision has yet been taken on the proposed Seaton Carew power station.

Mr. Marsh

No, Sir.

Mr. Willey

Can my right hon. Friend say whether he will be able to make a statement before the end of the year? Is it a fact that the National Coal Board has offered a long-term contract at very much reduced prices? Can my right hon. Friend make a statement about the cost benefit analysis which has been made on this?

Mr. Marsh

I do not think that these discussions will take very much longer. Many of my hon. Friends wanted this job to be done properly to take into account all the various factors in this, and the National Coal Board's application will be one of them, though it is sometimes suggested that if there is coal at this price it would be useful to purchase it anyhow.

Mr. Leadbitter

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that this matter of considering the building of the power station has gone on for many months? The fact is that 2,000 jobs will be provided by constructing the power station, and it is therefore imperative that a decision be made which will mean that work can start within the first few weeks of the new year.

Mr. Marsh

My hon. Friend has highlighted a particular problem. He is in favour of a nuclear-powered station. Many of my hon. Friends favour a coal-fired power station. I shall do what I can as quickly as possible to reach a compromise between them.

Sir G. Nabarro

Will the right hon. Gentleman confide in the House of Commons about the comparative cost of a coal-fired station at Seaton Carew, and a nuclear-fired station? Does he not recall that many of us on both sides of the House believe that coal ought to be used at this new station, and not nuclear power?

Mr. Marsh

There is a strong view that this should be a coal-fired station. This controversy has gone on for a long time. As I understand it, hon. Members on both sides of the House want a proper cost benefit analysis done in relation to which is the best station to put there. It does not necessarily follow that if we do not have a nuclear-fired station at Seaton Carew we have a coal-fired station on that site. It might well be elsewhere.

Mr. Shinwell

In view of the importance of the Government reaching a decision on this matter, from the point of view of the Durham coalfield, and indeed for miners generally, may we have an assurance that before any decision is taken the House will be consulted? Is not this a matter which ought to be determined by the House before a final decision is taken?

Mr. Marsh

At the moment I see no reason why the House should not be informed of what the Government have in mind about this. The Government have no particular angle other than to get the best sort of station. This is an arguable matter. I see no reason why it should not be announced in the House.

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