HC Deb 17 November 1997 vol 301 cc48-9W
Ms Walley

To ask the President of the Board of Trade what sums were collected by the Coal Authority in respect of coal mining searches on property sales in each of the last three years; and in each year what these were as a percentage of the Authority's total income. [15733]

Mr. Battle

The following table shows the Coal Authority's turnover and operating surplus from the provision of coal mining reports and records for the past three financial years, and their relationship to the Authority's total turnover and operating surplus or deficit.

Mr. Battle

The Government believe that there is scope for expanding the European sales of United Kingdom coal which is by far the lowest cost production in Europe. To this end, the Government are vigorously urging the Commission to block the subsidies to German and Spanish coal producers that create barriers to 1998 sales of United Kingdom steam coal, anthracite and manufactured smokeless fuels in the European Coal and Steel Community.

Other steps we have taken to encourage the continuation of markets for coal include: Setting up a review of the Electricity Pool. Encouraging the generators to offer their unwanted coal-powered stations for sale to RJB Mining or other coal producers. Encouraging the regulator to prevent generators from passing on excessive costs under the early take-or-pay gas contracts to ensure that there is no uneven playing field. Introducing the Fossil Fuel Levy Bill which will remove the advantage that nuclear and imported electricity from France currently enjoys. We are also working hard to find ways to support clean coal technology.