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Fuel And Power

Volume 526: debated on Monday 12 April 1954

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Power Stations, London (Sulphur Oxide Gases)


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether, in view of the amount of calcium sulphate which will be discharged into the River Thames from the gas-washing plants at Bankside and Battersea power stations when these are in full operation, what action he proposes to take to rid the flue gases of the other riverside power stations of harmful sulphur oxides.

I have nothing to add to the answers I gave the hon. Member on 5th April.

If these statements are correct, will the right hon. Gentleman give instructions that no more power stations are to be built within, say, 20 miles of London until a method of ridding the flue gases of these most dangerous substances is discovered?

I said last time that, in accordance with the general policy of generating more in the Midland coalfields, there would be a reduction in these particular stations.

Natural Gas (Surveys)


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he will make a statement on progress made in the search for natural gas in the United Kingdom.

An area totalling about 3,680 square miles in various parts of England and Scotland has been chosen for prospecting purposes. Geophysical surveys are being carried out in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire; a deep borehole is being drilled in Scotland, and it is hoped to start deep drilling in Sussex soon.

Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that in view of the great need to economise in the use of our coal resources in every direction, the gas industry is really pursuing this research with the vigour it deserves?

Yes, Sir, I think so, and I think that the gas industry deserves credit for starting up this work in association with the D'Arcy Exploration Company.

Will my right hon. Friend consider carrying out surveys in the Westminster area?

New Capital Investment


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power the total new capital investment of the nationalised coal, electricity and gas industries since vesting date in each case, and corresponding figures for the period prior to the outbreak of war in 1939.

In round figures, £240 million, £810 million and £205 million respectively. Corresponding figures of pre-war investment are not available for coal or gas. For electricity, the figure for the six years before 1939 was about £200 million—which would be equivalent to a figure perhaps three times as great in present day money.

Can my right hon. Friend say why it is that the increased investments in the coal mines resulted in no material increase in output last year?

That is rather a different and larger question, but I would point out that it takes up to 10 years to bring in a new pit, and about seven years to complete a major reconstruction.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that many experiments are taking place to find pit room for the men, which involves a delay in expenditure on the development of the coal field?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, last year, there was an extra week's paid holiday, the Coronation Day holiday, and yet the output per man-shift went up?