HC Deb 06 July 1983 vol 45 cc103-4W
Mr. Boyes

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what information he has as to the level of subsidy given by each coal-producing country in the European Community for each tonne of coal produced.

Mr. Giles Shaw

Any valid comparison between support for coal in Community countries should first consider the level of long-term commitment being made in terms of investment expenditure, where the United Kingdom leads by a substantial margin on the 1982 Commission figures:

£ million
United Kingdom 698
Federal Republic of Germany 264
France 38
Belgium 26

Other member states put a greater share of their support for the coal industry into operating subsidies, aimed simply at balancing losses and without long-term investment benefits. The 1982 figures published by the European Commission are as follows:

£/tonne £ million
United Kingdom (financial year 1982–83) 3.2 402
Federal Republic of Germany 4.5 423
France 17.2 310
Belgium 17.7 112

Note: Aids towards social costs such as pensions and redundancy payments have not been included in the table because the wide variations between general social security arrangements in the different Member States preclude fair comparison. The German 'coal penny' has also been excluded because it is not a subsidy to the coal industry but rather a tax on electricity consumers which is distributed to the electricity industry in compensation for using uncompetitive coal supplies.

Overall, in respect of investment and operating subsidies taken together, the United Kingdom is clearly providing more financial support to its coal industry than any other Community country.

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