§ Mr. Bellingham
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when the Monopolies and Mergers Commission's report on the efficiency and costs of the National Coal Board will be published.
§ Mr. Parkinson
The report is published today. The commission has examined the efficiency and costs of the National Coal Board and produced a comprehensive analysis which makes a valuable contribution to informed public understanding of the industry.
The commission has studied in detail a number of the board's functions relating to the development, production and supply of coal, including operating costs, the system. of internal cost control, purchasing policies, the methods of controlling stocks of stores and materials, the planning and appraisal of new investment, and the management, supervision and control of investment projects.
In addition, the commission recommends that areas and other major formations should be operated as far as possible as business units subject to more fully adopted 7W financial as well as production targets and with a greater awareness of the cost of capital. This would require change in the board's management accounting system.
The commission says in its report that the effects of its recommendations are likely to be limited unless the NCB's fundamental problems of over-capacity and high costs pits are tackled. The commission does not attempt to specify how much needs to be done or over what time period. It is for the board to face the problem and take the necessary action.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy will be considering the commission's recommendations and will make a statement in due course on the action taken or planned to follow-up the commission's valuable work.