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Oil Fuel (Supplies)

Volume 529: debated on Monday 28 June 1954

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asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether, in view, of the coal shortage pending, he will encourage substitution of oil fuel for coal in appropriate industrial and domestic circumstances by giving an undertaking that adequate supplies of oil fuel will be available when plants are converted for oil burning, in view of the need to restore confidence following the alternations in Government policy in 1947–48, which sponsored conversion of coal plants to oil and then back to coal, thus causing heavy losses to all concerned.

Yes, Sir. Such substitution is in the, national interest, and to encourage it is part of the Government's fuel policy. The use of oil in place of coal has been increasing in recent years and in 1953 provided a coal equivalent saving of about 13 million tons compared with 10 million tons in 1950.

The increase is likely to continue over the next few years and the oil companies have told me that they expect to be able to meet such increasing demands; but those considering a new or larger use of oil would, of course, be wise to discuss their plans first with prospective suppliers.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that his statement—in such unequivocal tones—in favour of conversion from coal to oil, will do a great deal to restore the loss of confidence which has been felt in recent years, as a result of the alternations in policy of the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell)?