§ Mr. Woof
asked the Secretary of State for Energy (1), in view of the rising price of oil, if he will initiate consultation between the Government, the National Coal Board and the mining unions on the shape the coal mining industry is to take in the development of world energy markets; and if he will make a statement;
(2) what re-assessment of the coal industry's future he considers to be needed to ensure expansion of output, and to enable it to play a large part in providing national energy supplies.
§ Mr. Varley
Together with ministerial colleagues, the National Coal Board and the unions concerned, I am conducting a thorough examination of the future of the coal industry. Our interim report was published on 18th June and we hope to produce our final report by the end of the summer or early autumn.
§ Mr. Eadie
As was made clear in the interim report of the CIE published on 18th June, provided coal remains competitive with oil potential demand in the 1980s from traditional markets is likely to be substantially in excess of today's levels of output. The coal industry's rôle 319W must be to do everything possible to meet this demand.
§ Mr. Eadie
The European Economic Commission has suggested a possible future need for coal imports from outside the Community of up to 50 million tons a year. On this basis, if our costs remained competitive with the prices of other fuels and coal from non-Community countries, then there would be a potential demand far in excess of anything we might be able to supply.
§ Mr. Sillars
asked the Secretary of State for Energy, if, following the presentation of the interim report on the coal industry, he will answer Questions about the effects of the matters discussed in it on individual coalfields.