Coal Liquefaction

Oral Answers to Questions — Energy – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th December 1984.

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Photo of Mr Jack Dormand Mr Jack Dormand , Easington 12:00 am, 17th December 1984

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a statement on the progress of coal liquefaction.

Photo of Mr David Hunt Mr David Hunt , Wirral West

The National Coal Board has completed the basic design work for its liquefaction project at Point of Ayr. I am delighted to be able now to announce that the Commission of the European Community has offered aid of £4·8 million. The board expects to begin work on the construction phase early in the new year.

Photo of Mr Jack Dormand Mr Jack Dormand , Easington

Does the Minister agree that liquefaction is most important for the future of the coal industry? Does he agree that the Government first used the excuse of lack of private capital for the slow development of coal liquefaction? Is the Minister now using the miners' strike as an excuse for even slower development? The Minister has said nothing about Government finance. Will he say something about it now?

Photo of Mr David Hunt Mr David Hunt , Wirral West

This Minister is well aware of the hon. Gentleman's interest in the subject. It is a vital subject. The National Coal Board is discussing terms of participation with a private sector company. Such participation is expected to release the £2·5 million balance of the Department's contribution, which has already been substantial in the design stage.

Photo of Mr Alexander Eadie Mr Alexander Eadie , Midlothian

Does the Minister realise that his Department has been fiddling around with the liquefaction scheme for five and a half years? At the end of that it seems that all we shall have will be a glorified laboratory scheme on a colliery site. Is it any wonder that our scientists are disillusioned with the Government's approach to science and technology?

Photo of Mr David Hunt Mr David Hunt , Wirral West

I do not accept what the hon. Gentleman says. The project is important. Completion of the NCB contract with the EEC will trigger the start of the construction phase work. That will go ahead with the Government's full support.