Electricity Generation (East Lothian)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:45 pm on 4th December 1996.

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Photo of Mr George Kynoch Mr George Kynoch , Kincardine and Deeside 1:45 pm, 4th December 1996

I have noted what the hon. Gentleman said, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Of course he will speak for his constituents, but it would be reasonable to think that there might have been some consensus on the Opposition Benches on a topic that may have such a major impact on Scotland.

I was talking about the two Scottish electricity companies and their success in competing fiercely with each other in Scotland, and also in the market in England and Wales. Of course some business has been lost to suppliers from England, and more business may be lost in future. But both companies have been successful in doing much more of their business in England and Wales, especially since Scottish Power's successful acquisition of MANWEB and Southern Water, which was mentioned by Opposition Members.

As for coal, the Scottish electricity industry has said that it will continue to buy Scottish coal so long as it is competitive in price and quality, and it is taking as much as the coal industry can produce. I have no doubt that the industry will respond to the challenge, and will continue to be a successful supplier to Scottish Power and Scottish Hydro-Electric.

Certainly those companies' commitment to coal has been maintained—indeed, increased. Power stations have been fitted with special burners that reduce the amount of nitrous oxides emitted. Scottish Power has secured a substantial European Community grant to test gas over-burning at Longannet power station, with a view to raising its efficiency and reducing emissions. I was most impressed with what I saw when I visited Longannet not long ago.

The company is also testing at Longannet a new technique that extracts sulphur dioxide efficiently from flue gas. Those developments all exemplify the entrepreneurial attitude of both Scottish Power and Hydro-Electric, and augurs well for their ability to deal with the competitive threats that the future undoubtedly holds. [Interruption.] Does the hon. Member for Cumbernauld and Kilsyth (Mr. Hogg) want to say something?