HC Deb 04 February 1969 vol 777 cc201-2
30. Mr. Eadie

asked the Minister of Power if he will give authority to the National Coal Board to plan for an additional 12½ million tons of coal, in the light of the amended figure of the landing of North Sea gas.

Mr. Freeson

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave to him on 10th December last.—[Vol. 775, c. 198.]

Mr. Eadie

Would not my hon. Friend agree that an announcement of an increased demand for coal would do something to restore the flagging morale of miners?

Mr. Freeson

As has been said on previous occasions, and as recently as yesterday, by my right hon. Friend, there is nothing in the White Paper or in any other action of the Government which would restrict the N.C.B. from selling more coal if it is able to produce it. If it is able to go above the figures which have been forecast for the future we shall be pleased.

Mr. Lubbock

Will the Minister say whether it is possible that additional amounts of coal will be supplied to the Gas Council following the recent accident to the rig in the North Sea?

Mr. Freeson

There are bound to be adjustments from time to time irrespective of particular incidents of that kind, but we have no reason to believe that this will have a long-lasting result and that there will be a need for a change in strategy on the rundown of coal consumption in the gas industry. Quite apart from natural gas consumption, a rapid switch to oil was being made before.

Dame Irene Ward

May I ask the hon. Gentleman whether his Department will fight for any of the policies of back benchers, including making representations and fighting for us against the rise in steel prices?

Mr. Freeson

That is another question.

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