HC Deb 16 February 1987 vol 110 cc647-8
9. Mr. Kenneth Carlisle

asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether he has received any applications from the Central Electricity Generating Board for a new power station other than that relating to Sizewell.

14. Mr. Eadie

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he proposes to meet the chairman of the Central Electricity Generating Board in the month of February to discuss power station orders.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

My right hon. Friend meets the chairman regularly. The only application which he has for consent to construct a power station is that for Sizewell B.

Mr. Carlisle

Do not the suppliers of electricity generating plant urgently need new orders if they are to avoid redundancies and keep their skilled teams intact? Because of this, and in view of the possible shortage of electricity in 10 years' time, will my right hon. Friend take urgent steps to support a programme of ordering new power stations?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I am aware that some manufacturers of power plant equipment and those who work in the industry are concerned about this. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has before him just the one application. However, as I said earlier, if he receives such applications he will endeavour to deal with them as quickly as he can.

Mr. Eadie

The right hon. Gentleman has confirmed what he said earlier, that if applications were made for two new coal-fired power stations he would not discourage them. Is he aware that if consideration was being given to strengthening the south-east electricity grid link, Scotland could import two power stations because of the surplus capacity, and we would not need Sizewell?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

As the hon. Gentleman knows, we shall have an opportunity to debate this matter next week and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will consider all the evidence presented to him. I am sure the hon. Gentleman will agree that it is right that my right hon. Friend should await the results of the debate before he comes to a decision. The debate will give an opportunity for these issues to be raised.

Mr. Eastham

Is the Minister aware that there is great suspicion in the engineering industry that the CEGB is holding back on placing orders for coal-fired stations until the Government decide about Sizewell? While this is going on the engineering industry is in a desperate state as it waits for orders, and month after month hundreds of workers are losing their jobs. In the end, we may no longer have the engineering capacity to manufacture the turbines and other equipment needed to carry out the orders.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

As the hon. Gentleman knows, particularly from the exchanges this afternoon, my right hon. Friend has an application before him for a power station. No doubt the hon. Gentleman will bear in mind what he said about that.