HC Deb 10 March 1986 vol 93 cc655-6
7. Mr. Speller

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what is the allocation of funds within the 17 per cent. of total expenditure spent on all non-nuclear research and development; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. David Hunt

My Department's expenditure on non-nuclear research and development in 1984–85 was as follows:

£ million
Offshore hydrocarbons 19.5
Renewable sources of energy 14.0
Energy efficiency *6.6
Coal technology 0.7
Total: 40.8
*Including £5 million on the energy efficiency demonstration scheme.
Mr. Speller

I thank my hon. Friend for those detailed figures, but I find the accounting somewhat "constructive" when energy efficiency is included in research and development. In future years, will he seek rather more than £700,000 for use in the coal industry where there are so many opportunities for the clean use of coal, to avoid, for example, the acid rain to which he referred earlier?

Mr. Hunt

On the first point, the figure that I gave related to research and development in energy efficiency. Total expenditure on promoting energy efficiency was £17.5 million in 1984–85. On the second point, the research and development spend by the nationalised energy industries and the Department on topics relating to the clean use of coal is running at about £40 million per year. My hon. Friend is right to emphasise the importance of that work.

Mr. Barron

If the nuclear industry, which is currently going through a traumatic period in relation to nuclear waste, fails to provide for needs into the next century, should not the liquefaction and fluidised bed combustion services, which have had money taken from them in the past five years, have more than £700,000 per year pumped into them?

Mr. Hunt

I think that the hon. Gentleman has misunderstood the nature of the figures that I gave. I stressed that the research and development spend on the clean use of coal is now running at £40 million per year, and that work is very important.

Mr. Hayes

Does my hon. Friend regard with dismay the decision taken this weekend, when the Scottish Labour party conference decided by an overwhelming majority to close nuclear installations and take to coal instead? Does he agree that Mr. Scargill's writ seems to be running north of the border if not to the south?

Mr. Hunt

My hon. Friend is right to stress that the Labour party should not play politics with an industry responsible for 100,000 jobs.

Mr. Wrigglesworth

Will the Minister look again at the budget for renewable energy sources? Will he confirm that we spend on these resources only one third of the amount spent by West Germany and one quarter of the amount spent by Japan, and will he see whether that part of the budget can be expanded?

Mr. Hunt

I stress that international comparisons do not take account of our favourable position in conventional energy. However, total expenditure to date on renewables is £90 million—nearly 80 per cent. of which has been spent during the term of the present Government.