§ Mr. Dobson
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy, pursuant to his intervention of 4 December 1989,Official Report, column 41, what was the value of British Coal on 31 March 1990.
§ Mr. Wakeham
The value of British Coal as at 31 March 1990 will depend on a detailed assessment of the earnings potential of each mine over its remaining life. I expect this work to be completed by late summer. I cannot prejudge in the meantime what this final figure will be. I have, however, satisfied myself that under any likely scenario over half the Corporation's collieries are likely to show a negative cash flow over their remaining lives, and that this will lead to the write-off of at least half the industry's £4 billion fixed assets. On this basis, and taking into account the losses incurred in 1989–90 and earlier years, I have in accordance with section 1(3)(b) of the Coal Industry Act 1990, paid British Coal an interim sum of £3 billion in deficiency grant. This sum was paid on 29 March 1990 and allowed an immediate and corresponding repayment of outstanding debt.