HC Deb 21 May 1973 vol 857 cc21-2
27. Mr. Kelley

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what was the quantity of solid smokeless fuel imported into the United Kingdom, from EEC countries, since 1st January 1973.

Sir G. Howe

Smokeless fuels are not separately distinguished in the trade statistics, but imports of anthracite, briquettes of coal and of hard coke totalled 108.3 thousand metric tonnes.

Mr. Kelley

Is the Minister aware that smokeless fuels are coming into the country from West Germany and being invoiced to people in London while at the same time the National Coal Board is considering closing down two recently established smokeless fuel plants, installed at a cost of £10 million of public money? Is he aware that we are allowing this capital to be eroded in this way without any protection, and that this competition is coming from plants which have probably been established in Germany and other parts of Europe for 20 or more years?

Sir G. Howe

As I understand the situation, imported fuels are currently only about 5 per cent. of the smokeless fuel market and it would be inappropriate to ban those imports while we support home production at a financial loss. But any question of closure would arise only after careful examination of the financial prospects of the plants in question.

Mr. Edwin Wainwright

Will the Minister say whether we are still exporting anthracite dust to the Continent and re-importing it as smokeless fuel?

Sir G. Howe

I should like notice of that question, but I shall draw it to the attention of my right hon. Friend.

Forward to