§ 9. Mr. Hannam
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what is the latest position of the coal conversion scheme; and if he will make a statement.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Energy (Mr. David Hunt)
Since the scheme's inception, 636 applications have been received. However, 242 applications have subsequently been withdrawn, including 117 since the state of industrial action by the NUM. Had the current strike not taken place, I believe that more than 1,000 firms would have converted to coal this year.
§ Mr. Hannam
I thank my hon. Friend for that reply and congratulate him on his appointment to the Front Bench. Does his reply not show the disastrous effect of this strike on coal demand and make it clear to everyone, including the Opposition Front Bench, that the original "Plan for Coal" targets for coal demand have been destroyed by the action of Mr. Scargill and his strike?
§ Mr. Hunt
I appreciate my hon. Friend's kind remarks and share his concern. Those of us on both sides of the House who care about the long-term future of our great coal industry are angry about the damage that is being done by this sad and unnecessary dispute, and the damage that it is causing to future markets for coal.