HC Deb 17 June 1969 vol 785 c245
10. Mr. Woof

asked the Minister of Power how the present level of coal stocks compares with that of a year ago.

Mr. Mason

Undistributed stocks are down by more than 5 million tons.

Mr. Woof

Although we are all glad to hear that figure, could my right hon. Friend explain a little further some of the factors which have brought about that fall in coal stocks?

Mr. Mason

It is mainly because the Government special support for coal burning in power stations and gas works has already caused an extra 7 million tons of coal to be burned.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

Can the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that there will not be a shortage of domestic coal in the coming winter months because power stations are having to take extra coal owing to the failure of the new modern type of work?

Mr. Mason

I can give that assurance because production is going up and stocks are still high.

Mr. Ogden

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the stocks would have been less if we had been able to persuade Lancashire County Council not to convert 200 schools from coal-fired to oilfired at the cost of two Lancashire pits? Can he persuade more local authorities to use modern methods of solid fuel direct heating?

Mr. Mason

My hon. Friend is quite correct. There are instances in the heart of coalfields where it is still possible to burn coal and the Government went out of their way to give a direction that in all Government establishments, even if coal is 5 per cent. dearer than oil, coal should be burned.