HC Deb 08 March 1982 vol 19 c596
18. Mr. Ioan Evans

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what are the latest estimated reserves of coal, natural gas and oil in the United Kingdom.

Mr. John Moore

The NCB estimates that 45 billion tonnes will be ultimately recoverable. The latest estimates published in the 1981 Brown Book, less production to 31 December 1981 for remaining gas and oil reserves, are 1.8 billion to 4.0 billion tonnes for oil and 700 billion to 2,100 billion cubic metres for gas.

Mr. Evans

As our energy reserves are one of our greatest assets that give us advantages over our Western industrial competitors will the Government think c f withdrawing the Oil and Gas (Enterprise) Bill, which will be guillotined later today, and which seeks to dispose of our national assets in the oil and gas industries? Is it not better that we should husband these resources for the advantage of the people rather than for private speculation?

Mr. Moore

The hon. Gentleman has it wrong. It is not the assets themselves, but the wise, efficient and competitive use of the assets that produces wealth for the nation. That is what the Oil and Gas (Enterprise) Bill will do, by ensuring more competitive use of those rare assets.

Mr. Welsh

Is the Minister aware that much of our great reserves of coal should be used as soon as possible to the benefit of the country? Does he agree that he should get in touch with his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment to see that no further local authority houses are built without chimneys to burn coal? Could he also ask his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry to form his opinion more quickly arid to advertise his allowances and loans to industry to change over to solid fuel?

Mr. Moore

I admire the ingenuity of the hon. Gentleman in forwarding his legitimate coal interest. However, coal can best serve the domestic and the industrial user if it can be supplied at competitive prices with security of supply. These are the two key things that coal needs to get itself back into these markets.