HC Deb 29 November 1976 vol 921 cc461-2
10. Mr. Ovenden

asked the Secretary of State for Energy when he next intends to meet the Chairman of the CEGB.

Mr. Eadie

My right hon. Friend has frequent meetings with the Chairman of the Central Electricity Generating Board.

Mr. Ovenden

Will my hon. Friend ask his right hon. Friend to ensure that the next time he meets the Chairman of the CEGB there is a full discussion on the plight of the boiler industry and the construction industry, which has come about as a result of the drop in electricity consumption and a reduction in the need for power stations? Will my hon. Friend try to persuade the CEGB to advance its programme for conventional power stations, and will he make it clear that the Government are prepared to provide money to ensure that that can be done?

Mr. Eadie

I am seized of the points made by my hon. Friend, and I can tell him that at the last meeting there were discussions on the matter to which he refers. On the question of power station ordering, my hon. Friend will be aware that the CPRS has reported on this matter. My right hon. Friend has met many representatives of the trade unions, and this question of power station ordering has been put to him forcefully.

Mr. Rost

Will the hon. Gentleman comment on the statement by the Chairman of the CEGB about the likely effect of further immediate increases in the price of coal on the price of electricity and the demand for it and, therefore, on the market for coal?

Mr. Eadie

No, Sir. I have no comment to make on the statement by the Chairman of the CEGB about this. As the hon. Gentleman knows, the question of coal supplies and the cost of energy has concerned the House for some time. The Government believe that a coal policy is in the interests of the country and that coal should be produced as cheaply and economically as possible commensurate with ensuring that miners enjoy conditions similar to those in other heavy industries.

Mr. Palmer

As my hon. Friend will be aware, the Chairman of the CEGB, Sir Arthur Hawkins, has a reputation for making outspoken statements. Are these statements, for good or ill, welcome in the Department?

Mr. Eadie

Candour is always appreciated in the matter of energy policy. As for the statement by Sir Arthur Hawkins, he is the man who is making the statements and he must be responsible for them.