§ 1. Mr. Wallace
asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he has completed his study of the consultant's report on combined heat and power and district heating schemes; and whether he will make a statement.
§ The Minister of State, Department of Energy (Mr. Alick Buchanan-Smith)
My right hon. Friend expects to make a statement shortly.
§ Mr. Wallace
I am glad to hear that the Secretary of State intends to make a statement shortly, but we hope that it will be in the very near future, not some distant future. Does he agree that if combined heat and power schemes are to be successful they will require the Government' 2 enthusiastic backing and a guarantee against risks? Does he accept that if the feet-dragging is prolonged much further it could prejudice the success of any schemes that are brought to fruition?
§ Mr. Buchanan-Smith
There is n˙ question of dragging feet. The Government are committed to the idea. We have already spent over £900,000 on feasibility studies which raise many issues which we are studying thoroughly. As soon as we come to a conclusion we shall make an announcement, which I hope will be shortly.
§ Mr. Rost
Has my right hon. Friend studied the various independent assessments, including energy paper No. 52 by the Advisory Council on Energy Conservation, saying that the purchase of more high-cost Norwegian gas would be a less cost-effective supply option than investing in Leeds city combined heat and power using coal as a base, apart from the savings on our balance of payments? Will my right hon. Friend therefore consider those alternative options, as compared with the other supply options which might well pre-empt them?
§ Mr. Robert C. Brown
Does the Minister accept that, apart from the full-hearted co-operation of the Government, it is necessary to secure the full-hearted co-operation of the councils involved? Is he aware that the Newcastle upon Tyne council is extremely keen to take up the scheme as soon as possible?
§ Mr. Buchanan-Smith
We are grateful for the support that we have received, particularly in the preparation of the feasibility studies. We shall take it into account in our final assessment.