Surely my right hon. Friend would not deny that he gives considerable guidance to the Central Electricity Generating Board in this matter. In these circumstances, will he make available in the Library a list of the considerations which he takes into account in making his decisions?
I will readily put in the Library, if it is of assistance to my hon. Friend and other hon. Members, details of the policy basis for making decisions. A rather more comprehensive document would be required to include all the principles that guide Ministers in giving guidance.
Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that where he has refused consent to the C.E.G.B. to convert from solid fuel firing to oil or natural gas, additional costs are imposed on electricity consumers? Bearing this in mind, does not the right hon. Gentleman think that the Coal Industry Act, 1967, and its successor, which is now in course of consideration, should be extended to enable him to pay compensation to the C.E.G.B. where these additional costs are incurred?
We have powers for compensating and the hon. Member will, no doubt, now see that in appropriate cases we have power and that the policy on this matter is set out in Cmnd. 3437, which goes into some detail on it.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that we often listen to the problems of the C.E.G.B. as against coal in the matter of cost such as has been mentioned from the benches opposite? Is he aware that many miners believe that this defamation of the coal industry seems to be an attempt to cover up some of the financial problems of the C.E.G.B.?
We should not see these questions as arising from a desire to defame the coal industry. The Government are bound to take into account wider considerations than the mere immediate cost of a particular station in the interests not merely of the coal industry but of the electricity industry.