HC Deb 07 November 1983 vol 48 cc5-6
5. Mr. Rogers

asked the Secretary o f State for Energy what proposals his Department has for a balanced fuels policy.

Mr. Giles Shaw

It remains the Government's aim that all economic forms of energy should be exploited, supplied and used efficiently.

Mr. Rogers

Will the Minister disclose what role he sees the coal industry playing in any future balanced fuel programme? Will he also elevate the coal industry in his general accounting procedures so that it can play a truly effective role?

Mr. Shaw

I welcome the hon. Gentleman's question. The Government's aim is to ensure that the coal industry plays a major and viable part in our energy policy. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will agree that it is essential, in that achievement, to produce coal at a p ice at which the market is willing to buy.

Mr. Wilson

The Minister believes in a market and balanced energy policy. Has he examined the figures in today's Glasgow Herald which show that the South of Scotland Electricity Board will be buying about 4 million tonnes of coal from the National Coal Board next year compared with about 8 million tonnes three years ago? Does the Minister realise that if that continues a catastrophic loss of jobs, beyond the industry's current position, will occur? Does he accept his responsibility for trying to retain a share of the coal industry for Scotland?

Mr. Shaw

I am aware of the position. I understand that a large portion of the problem is due to the Peterhead power station now using natural gas liquid in addition to coal. I understand that that is for a temporary period. Overall, the loss to the Coal Board in Scotland is about 25 per cent. of the volume compared with last year. We must remember that there has been a large drop in demand.

Dr. McDonald

If the Government are committed to a balanced fuel policy, will the Minister prove that commitment by reversing the CEGB's decision not to use the fifth unit at the Isle of Grain oil-fired power station, which is being built by one of our best teams of construction workers?

Mr. Shaw

It is for the CEGB to determine where its major capital investments should be realised.

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