HC Deb 13 July 1970 vol 803 cc1123-4
11. Mr. Iremonger

asked the Minister of Technology if he will make a statement about the progress of smokeless zones in Greater London, with special reference to Ilford, and the outlook for supplies next winter of suitable fuel for converted fires.

21. Mr. Murton

asked the Minister of Technology what are his plans for ensuring an adequate supply of smokeless solid fuels for schools, other public buildings and domestic dwellings.

Sir J. Eden

I hope to be able to make an early statement about the outlook for solid smokeless fuel supplies.

Mr. Iremonger

Since it was obvious that this was going to happen three years ago, how is it that no proper planning precautions were taken to ensure that smokeless fuels were available?

Sir J. Eden

As my hon. Friend well knows, the new Government have only recently come into the position of responsibility, and our concern is to assess the position and make a statement as soon as possible.

Mr. Murton

Will the Minister of State when looking into the matter see whether something can be done to avoid the mistake made under the previous Administration, as, for example, in Dorset where the conversion of schools alone to oil or gas from solid fuel has cost no less than £180,000, interest upon which has to be borne by the ratepayers?

Sir J. Eden

I will certainly have that point in mind. Conversion of appliances of this kind is one of the factors to be taken into account.

Mr. Alan Williams

Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind that much of the cost of these conversions will be met by the savings achieved by the new smokeless fuels which will replace the old smokeless fuels?

Sir J. Eden

Yes, Sir.

56. Mr. Redmond

asked the Minister of Technology, whether, in view of the critical conditions in the forthcoming winter in many smokeless zones as a result of inadequate supplies of smokeless fuel, he will approve, as a matter of urgency, a crash programme by the National Coal Board to increase opencast mining, particularly in South Wales, to produce larger supplies of anthracite.

Sir J. Eden

Four anthracite sites have been authorised this year and another is being considered. I understand that the N.C.B. intends to apply for as many others as possible. These will be dealt with as a matter of urgency.

Mr. Redmond

Will my hon. Friend say how long it will take before extra anthracite becomes available from these sites? Is he aware that many houses in Bolton, and probably elsewhere, have appliances which simply cannot burn anything but smokeless fuel or anthracite?

Sir J. Eden

I am aware of the latter part of that question. Production from new sites will take place as soon as possible, but I am afraid that I do not have the exact date when we can expect to get it?

Mr. George Jeger

Are we still exporting smokeless fuel, or are stocks being built up for the forthcoming winter?

Sir J. Eden

We are building up stocks. What is being exported is anthracite dust for manufacture into smokeless fuel briquettes, which are being imported.

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