Coal Liquefaction

Part of Petition – in the House of Commons at 9:54 am on 22 May 1981.

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Photo of Mr John Moore Mr John Moore , Croydon Central 9:54, 22 May 1981

I know that the right hon. Gentleman would like me to go into the financing of nationalised industries. It has been made clear—I am delighted that he acknowledges this—that the ultimate success of this process must rely on participation by the private commercial as well as the public sector. It is clearly an important positive. I acknowledge that, and I assume that the NCB, being involved in the overall construction and the consortium to fund such a project, will naturally pursue the route that the right hon. Gentleman clearly endorses. I do not think that it would be wise for me to develop the discussion into other areas of nationalised industries' finance at this stage.

I remind the House—this is the point that I have just tried to make—that this technology can be successful only if it is developed commercially, and therefore, as the right hon. Member for Leeds, South mentioned, the early support of private industry is essential. I know that the NCB's technology has already attracted strong interest in the private sector, and I know that the board will show vigour in explaining to private investors the potential advantages of joining the board in this project. As both management and unions made clear at the recent tripartite discussions, the approval of the Government in principle was crucial and can serve as an encouragement to others. Today, as I said, we have done more than give our approval in principle. We have backed that decision with money from my Department's research and development budget.