HC Deb 09 May 1988 vol 133 cc8-9
12. Mr. Eadie

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he has been informed by British Coal of progress made in its meetings with the South of Scotland Electricity Board regarding future coal burn at power stations.

Mr. Parkinson

These negotiations are a commercial matter for the two industries concerned, but I have asked to be kept informed.

Mr. Eadie

Does the Secretary of State not agree that, in the midst of the negotiations with British Coal, the South of Scotland Electricity Board is being provocative and threatening? We have learnt that between 20,000 and 30,000 tonnes of foreign coal are now at Rotterdam awaiting delivery to the SSEB in small cargoes, and that 3,000 tonnes have already arrived at the Kincardine power station in Scotland. Did the Secretary of State not endorse the three-month agreement to halt foreign coal imports, to give time for British Coal and the SSEB to reach an agreement on coal burning in this country?

Mr. Parkinson

As the hon. Gentleman knows, I have made my position very clear. I cannot force either party to reach an agreement, although I should like them to do so, and I have been doing all that I can to encourage them. The negotiations are in hand, and I hope that they will be successful.

Mr. Maclennan

Is the Secretary of State aware that the SSEB is among the generating boards that are impressed not only by coal burn rates but by the burn-up rate of the fast breeder reactor—which is why it has put its weight behind the project for the future?

Mr. Parkinson

Yes. I want to make it clear that we wish to retain the fast breeder reactor technology for this country. The question is how we do that in the most economic way possible. As I said in answer to an earlier question, we are looking at all the aspects of the problem very carefully. I look forward to discussions with the hon. Gentleman when he comes to see me tomorrow.