HC Deb 30 November 1983 vol 49 cc878-9
14. Mr. Douglas

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will estimate the percentage of electricity to be generated from coal in the next five years by power stations in Scotland.

Mr. Allan Stewart

In 1982–83, 38 per cent. of electricity generated in Scotland came from coal and slurry-fired stations. Within the limits of the uncertainties of forecasting, the South of Scotland Electricity Board expects this figure to rise to 43 per cent. in 1983–84 and to 56 per cent. in 1987–88.

Mr. Douglas

I accept the Minister's percentages. but is it not a fact that in absolute terms coal burn will decline? Is it not reasonable to assume that the unit costs of production of both the South of Scotland Electricity Board and the National Coal Board in Scotland will rise, to the jeopardy of industry and of miners' jobs? Will the Secretary of State not slide away from his responsibility to ensure a dynamic coal industry in Scotland because, notwithstanding our oil and gas reserves, coal is the most fruitful and secure fuel for the future?

Mr. Stewart

As I said in answer to the hon. Member for Midlothian (Mr. Eadie), the coal burn for next year will be higher than for this year. The hon. Gentleman made a general point about the coal industry. The figures that I gave a few minutes ago confirm the Government's concern to have a viable mining industry that can produce coal at prices that enable it to win markets.