§ Dr. Woodcock
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he will take steps to increase competition in the distribution of solid fuel.
§ Mr. Michael Spicer
Although I monitor developments in the solid fuel distribution sector, questions relating to competition are a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and the European Commission.
We have, however, made it clear that further acquisitions by British Coal, or its wholly owned subsidiaries, of businesses valued at over £0.5 million, where my approval is required, are likely to gain my consent only in exceptional circumstances. British Coal have also given assurances that trading between them and British Fuels Ltd. will continue to be on an arm's length basis.