HC Deb 28 February 1972 vol 832 cc1-3
1. Mr. Lane

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he will make a further statement on the effect of the coal miners' strike and picketing on electricity supplies and industrial activity.

The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Mr. John Davies)

In accordance with last Thursday's statement by my hon. Friend the Minister for Industry, the directions prohibiting the use of electricity by industry on three weekdays and on Sundays were revoked with effect from midnight last night. Industry, however, like other consumers, is still subject to rota disconnections and I hope it will be possible for a further statement on the future of these and other restrictions to be made before the end of this week.—[Vol. 831, c. 1505.]

Mr. Lane

Is it not clear that inconvenience to the community has been minimised by the superb work of those engaged in electricity supply and by the adaptability of industry generally? Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Government's decision to give priority to industry during this recovery period is widely accepted by the public?

Mr. Davies

Yes, I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. I would add that the work which has been done in shifting coal from pithead sites to the generating industry has also been a remarkable achievement. The reasons for deciding to stress the earliest possible return to work by industry, even in preference to the interests of household consumers are well known to the House.

Mr. Skinner

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that even while picketing was in progress, conversions were taking place at four power stations in the North and that equipment was being smuggled in to allow conversion to oil? [An HON. MEMBER: "Quite right, too."] I understand the hon. Member's feelings. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, if it is not made abundantly clear by the Government and the C.E.G.B. together that this oil conversion is of a temporary and not of a permanent nature, further picketing will take place and there will be further trouble for the Secretary of State and for the Government?

An Hon. Member


Mr. Davies

No; all those proposals are entirely wide of the mark. There is a later Question on this matter on the Order paper.