HC Deb 16 January 1978 vol 942 cc17-8W
Mr. Hooley

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will instruct the Energy Commission and all official bodies concerned with energy policy and statistics to express quantities of energy in a common denominator, either million tonnes of oil equivalent (mtoe) or million tonnes of coal equivalent (mtce), and cease the inconsistent and indiscriminate use of those two indices.

Mr. Eadie

The units employed for presenting total energy statistics—where different fuels have to be added together—depend mainly on tradition and thus the familiarity of the user, but conversion is not always easy and involves many statistical problems. The dominant fuel in the energy economy is usually chosen, i.e., historically for the United Kingdom, coal equivalent. However, the importance of oil in the international scene has caused many other countries and international organisations, including the EEC, to adopt an oil equivalent unit and this is generally used in international statistics. In the light of the above, we cannot undertake to instruct the Energy Commission or other official bodies always to adopt a single unit of measurement but we will seek to ensure that full regard is paid to the need for consistency and that the units adopted are always clearly shown. It is the present practice of the Department to publish energy balances in both sets of units. My hon. Friend will wish to know that with effect from May 1978 Department of Energy coal and coal equivalent statistics will be metricated: units of statute tons will be replaced by units of metric tons—or tonnes—smaller than tons by 1.6 per cent. The change of units will be well publicised.

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