HC Deb 05 February 1973 vol 850 cc5-6
4. Mr. Abse

asked the Secretary of State for Wales whether he will now initiate a study on the prospective needs of gas supplies to industry in Wales.

Mr. Peter Thomas

I am already in touch with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on this question.

Mr. Abse

Does the Secretary of State agree that it could be disastrous for my constituency, which has already suffered more than 2,000 redundancies during the period of office of the Conservative Government, to find itself—as indeed the whole of Monmouthshire—in difficulty as a result of failure to guarantee the availability of gas supplies to any incoming industry? Will he give an undertaking not only to see hon. Members representing Monmouthshire constituencies but also that as a result of discussions with Monmouthshire concerning the possibility of only a disproportionate amount of gas being available in Wales he will see that gas is taken away from areas of full employment like South-East England and is made available in areas where it is urgently needed?

Mr. Peter Thomas

I am very happy to meet any hon. Member to discuss any specific issue. The sale of industrial gas has risen massively in Wales, from 50 million therms in 1969–70 to an estimated 230 million therms in the current year. I know that there might be difficulty about one industry which has indicated that it wants a substantial amount of gas. I do not know of any other. But I shall be happy to have conversations with the hon. Gentleman or with any hon. Members on this matter.

Mr. George Thomas

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that, whatever figures he gives us, there is deep anxiety in Monmouthshire about the revelation that a major industry might not be able to have the gas it needs? My hon. Friend and I will take up his invitation to discuss this matter with him because it can have serious social consequences for Wales.

Mr. Peter Thomas

Yes, I am very happy to discuss this important matter with the right hon. Gentleman. I stress that there is widespread availability of alternative fuel. The industry to which I think the right hon. Gentleman was referring has said that a supply of gas is not essential to its product but that if gas is available it will use it.