§ 77. Mr. Mason
asked the Paymaster-General what guidance is being offered by his Department on the usage of the growing stocks of small coal now totalling more than 28 million tons; whether he will institute a survey of national fuel consumption to ascertain what annual tonnage of small coal is required; and if he will, with a view to allaying anxiety in the coal-mining industry, make a statement on this matter.
§ Sir I. Horobin
At 11th January, total stocks of all grades of coal amounted to 26 million tons, of which consumers hold two-thirds. The National Coal Board hold 8 million tons, mainly small coal. Pithead stocks were certainly higher than usual partly because of mild weather last year, but higher stocks are12W a useful insurance against changes of circumstance.
My noble Friend, in consultation with the National Coal Board, keeps consumption under continuous review, and the hon. Member will be aware that recent changes in the nuclear power programme and in oil contracts mean that the power stations will during the next decade be taking more small coal. There is nevertheless a need to reduce the proportion of small coal mined and the Board has launched a new drive to increase the proportion of large coal.