In view of the estimated 400 million tons of coal reserves in the Stirlingshire and Clackmannan coal basin, will the Minister consider supporting the proposal that these reserves should be used to feed a new or refurbished power station at Kincardine, which would help to ensure better employment prospects for miners at Polmaise colliery and elsewhere? Does he accept that what is required is public investment in the coal industry as a planned public enterprise rather than the crazy laissez faire economic theories recently expounded by the Secretary of State for Industry?
The hon. Member will be aware that only three boreholes have so far been drilled; one is still to be drilled. I shall of course draw his particular geological knowledge to the attention of the chairman of the National Coal Board when I meet him tomorrow morning to illustrate his views on the degree to which there are reserves. However, it is premature. We have still not had the details of the possibility of the reserves. When we do, we shall bring the issue forward very quickly.
Can the hon. Gentleman assure us that when he meets the chairman of the NCB he will discuss the expansion, not the contraction, of the coal industry? Did the Minister see the report of the speech of the Secretary of State for Employment, winding up one day's debate on the Queen's Speech, when he prayed in aid a quotation from Ernest Bevin: "Give me 200 million tons of coal and I will give you a foreign policy."? Is this a forerunner of the Government's policy—expanding to a target of 200 million tons?
With all his experience in the coal industry, the hon. Gentleman will not want me to deprive my hon. Friends of his later comments on "Plan for Coal". Suffice it to say at this moment that when I meet the chairman of the NCB tomorrow, as I did with Mr. Gormley this morning, we shall be concerning ourselves in detail with the exciting prospects in our coal industry and the real reserves of coal in the United Kingdom.