HC Deb 28 November 1983 vol 49 c647
14. Mr. Barron

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what are the future energy demand projections for British mined coal.

Mr. Giles Shaw

The Department's projections for long-term United Kingdom coal demand were given in the Department's proof of evidence to the Sizewell inquiry, copies of which were placed in the Libraries of both Houses on 7 October 1982. The projections envisaged a range of 100 million to 140 million tonnes in the year 2000.

Mr. Barron

Is the Minister aware that it was estimated in 1974, in "Plan for Coal" that about 120 million tonnes of deep-mined coal would be extracted in 1985, and that the industry is now producing about 105 million tonnes? Will the Minister come clean over the Government's attack on the National Union of Mineworkers for not being willing to run down the coal industry by 3 million to 4 million tonnes per annum, when they have fallen short of the targets set out in "Plan for Coal"? Surely the Government should be even-handed in their approach to the industry.

Mr. Shaw

The hon. Gentleman will recognise that the 1974 targets were established against a given set of circumstances and that such circumstances can easily be overtaken by events. The hon. Gentleman would be the first to claim that that must be so. He must now accept that the main task is to increase the volume of sales by competitively pricing coal at the level that the market demands.