Coal Production

Oral Answers to Questions — Technology – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 1 December 1969.

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Photo of Mr John Osborn Mr John Osborn , Sheffield, Hallam 12:00, 1 December 1969

asked the Minister of Technology, in view of the decision to build Drax B, what revision he has made of his estimate of total coal production and the number of jobs in the coal industry.

Photo of Mr Harold Lever Mr Harold Lever , Manchester Cheetham

Drax B should burn about 3½ million tons a year and provide about 5,000 mining jobs in the later 1970s.

Photo of Mr John Osborn Mr John Osborn , Sheffield, Hallam

May we have an assurance that the C.E.G.B. still wishes to go ahead, in view of the fact that the cost of coal is likely to rise considerably above the figures in the first estimates? When is construction likely to start, and when will the power stations be in production?

Photo of Mr Harold Lever Mr Harold Lever , Manchester Cheetham

Certainly the C.E.G.B. is intent on going ahead. All the matters which the hon. Gentleman has mentioned were taken fully into account before reaching the decision to put Drax firmly into our power programme. As for the date of commissioning the second part of Drax, the work should start in the next two or three years, according to the electricity demand at the time, and we expect it to be fully commissioned by about 1978.

Photo of Mr Arthur Palmer Mr Arthur Palmer , Bristol Central

Does my right hon. Friend agree that there are serious doubts about the coal supply position four years from now? Has that been taken into account in terms of Drax B?

Photo of Mr Harold Lever Mr Harold Lever , Manchester Cheetham

I entertain no doubts that there will be satisfactory supplies of suitable coals to Drax when it is commissioned. This has all been taken fully into account.

Photo of Sir David Price Sir David Price , Eastleigh

In all comparative fuel costings, including Drax, how far does the right hon. Gentleman and his Treasury friends allow the C.E.G.B. to take into account the phenomenon called inflation?

Photo of Mr Harold Lever Mr Harold Lever , Manchester Cheetham

My right hon. Friends at the Treasury and all other Ministers have to take this into account, willy nilly. It is always taken into account, as far as it can be foreseen, in our calculations.