§ 19. Mr. Hannam
asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether he is satisfied with the operation of the boiler conversion scheme.
§ Mr. John Moore
The scheme has resulted in a great deal of interest in coal conversion, although the rate of take-up of grants has been slower than expected. The scheme is currently under review and an announcement will be made shortly.
§ Mr. Hannam
Does the Minister accept that most people consider this an extremely worthwhile scheme and are rather disappointed that it has not gone as well as was hoped? Will the Minister consider extending the scheme to include boilers using fuels other than oil?
§ Mr. Moore
I drew my hon. Friend's attention to the announcement that will be made shortly, but I am sure that he and other hon. Members interested in the scheme will remember what has already been reported in today's Financial Times about the massive and welcome increase of coal boilers planned by ICI.
§ Mr. Rowlands
It is regrettable that this scheme has been a gigantic flop in the past 12 months. I hope that the hon. Gentleman, out of the recommendations or changes that will be proposed, will be able to help it along. Will the scheme be further hindered by the possible use of natural gas for steam raising, as could well happen under the Oil and Gas (Enterprise) Bill, since this could affect the conversion to coal by many industrialists?
§ Mr. Watson
If the take-up of grant under the scheme has been lower than expected, can my hon. Friend tell the House exactly what he did expect and what the take-up has been?
§ Mr. Moore
I did not say lower. I think I suggested that the commencement of the scheme was slower than those of us seeking rapid conversion expected. I also said that a further announcement would be made in the near future. In a recent debate I said that the figure was £71 million and that the initial applications numbered 61.