§ 80. Mr. Erroll
asked the Minister of Fuel and Power at what price per ton opencast coal is being obtained from Winstanley Hall Opencast No. 3A site, near Wigan; and how this price compares with the price in 1946, when the workings were closed on account of the high cost of production.
§ Mr. Robens
On the first part of the Question I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave him to a similar Question on 3rd March. As to the second part of the Question, coal production on the Winstanley Hall No. 3 site was completed in 1946 according to contract, but negotiations for the extension of the contract to cover the working of the seam to lower levels then broke down as the contractor was unable to offer a price acceptable to the Department. A contract for the extended workings which are now referred to as Site No. 3A was let in 1948, improvements in opencast mining methods and in the types of excavating machinery available having enabled another contractor to quote an acceptable price which is in fact lower than the actual cost of working the original No. 3 site.
§ 81. Mr. Erroll
asked the Minister of Fuel and Power why his regulations require that the successful tenderer for work on an opencast coal site should purchase a certain amount of plant from the Ministry of Supply whether he requires it or not.
§ Mr. Robens
It is not a condition of opencast coal contracts that any plant should be purchased from the Ministry of Supply or any other Government Department. Invitations to tender for these contracts specify the type and the minimum quantity of plant which my technical officers consider necessary to ensure the contractual output of coal. When my Department has available items of plant of124W the type specified they are offered for sale in conjunction with the contract, but the successful tenderer is at liberty to provide the whole of the required plant from other sources if he so desires.