asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will issue a further circular to all local authorities giving advice on the case for using solid fuel and for the inclusion of chimneys in all building schemes; and if he will make a statement.
No, Sir. The choice of heating fuels and whether to include a flue in newly contructed local authority housing is a matter for each housing authority in the light of its knowledge of local needs and circumstances—particularly of tenants' preferences.
Will the Minister confirm that, during the past 12 months, there has been a significant increase in the number of people who have transferred to solid fuel? Does he agree that one of the problems that people often face when installing new appliances is that they are unable to burn solid fuel because of the misguided policy of local authorities not to build chimneys? As there are 50 million tonnes of coal on the ground, some of which can be used for domestic purposes, and since there is a 300 years' supply of coal underground and a limited supply of other fossil fuels, why does he not review his decision and encourage local authorities to take the action that I have suggested?
I am sure that local authorities are as aware of the facts that the hon. Gentleman has mentioned as he is. We have produced a domestic energy note that has drawn the attention of housing authorities to the possibility of including flues in new dwellings or designing new dwellings so that flues can be incorporated later. Ultimately, however, it is for local authorities to decide what needs to meet.
Will the hon. Gentleman now advise local authorities on the installation of certain types of double glazing, in council and other dwellings so that tragedies such as we suffered in Nuneaton yesterday, and that occur elsewhere, can be avoided?
I am not sure how that issue arises from a circular on solid fuel. Perhaps it would be best if I wrote to the hon. Gentleman on the matter.