HC Deb 08 March 1982 vol 19 cc596-7
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. Moore

The hon. Gentleman spends so much time revelling in misery that he ignores the realities around him and the welcome news by ICI today for all interested in coal, as opposed to the politics of trying to make coal look unsuccessful.

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.

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