asked the Secretary for Mines whether the Anglo-Persian Oil Company's refinery at Llandarcy, near Swansea, in which the Government holds a controlling interest, will be available for refining oil produced by the destructive distillation of coal should any South Wales coal owners consider it desirable to set up the necessary retorts?
I understand that the refinery, as at present arranged, will be occupied with the treatment of crude petroleum only. Any extension of it for refining oil produced by the destructive distillation of coal would be a matter for negotiation between the Anglo-Persian Oil Company and colliery interests.
Will the Government look with favour on any proposal in that direction?
I cannot imagine that the Government will have any objection to it, but I think they have already said that they do not interfere in the commercial activities of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company.
asked the Secretary for Mines whether his attention has been drawn to the increasing replacement of coal by oil in many spheres of industry and commerce, and the consequent permanent increase in unemployment in the coal industry; and whether his Department has made any researches into the desirability of setting up retorts in those coalfields where profits are declining and unemployment increasing, with a view to producing oil by destructive distillation?
I am aware that the use of oil is increasing, but I think it is only a small factor among the causes of unemployment in the coalfields. The development of supplies of oil from home sources by the carbonisation of coal is a subject that is now occupying the close attention of the Fuel Research Board, and, in fact, was largely responsible for its institution in 1917. I would refer the hon. Member to the Report of the Board for the years 1920–21, the second section of which is devoted to the question of low temperature carbonisation.