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Oil (Industrial Power)

Volume 527: debated on Monday 17 May 1954

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33.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power to what extent refining capacity for oil and oil producers has increased in the United Kingdom since 1945, expressed percentum and in tons per annum; to what extent fuel oil has increasingly, or otherwise, been employed since 1945 to date as a substitute for coal in furnishing the sources of industrial power; and what the policy of Her Majesty's Government is in relation to substitution of oil for coal, in the future.

Elevenfold, from 2½ million tons in 1945 to about 28 million today. The extent to which fuel oil has replaced coal for industrial purposes cannot be firmly estimated but total inland deliveries of fuel oil have increased from 0·2 to 3·8 million tons during the period and it may be assumed that this represents a current annual saving of about 6 million tons of coal. Her Majesty's Government offer loans to industrialists who can make worthwhile savings by changing from coal to oil burning.

What about domestic consumers? Can my hon. Friend undertake to give guidance to a large number of householders and commercial concerns who urgently want to know, in present circumstances and in view of the low quality of much of the coal that is available to them, whether it is likely to be successful for them to switch over to oil? Will he give an undertaking to investigate this aspect of the matter?

My right hon. Friend's fuel efficiency branch is always out to be helpful.

Does the Minister realise that the public need no help from the Government on this? They have already made up their minds and are burning oil just as fast as they can get the mechanism.