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Volume 640: debated on Monday 8 May 1961

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asked the Minister of Power whether he is now in a position to make a statement on the results of the experiments in the import of liquid methane for the production of gas.

No, Sir. I have nothing to add to the replies given to the hon. Member for Normanton (Mr. A. Roberts) on 13th February and 24th April.

As it is reported that the Gas Council is about to make its proposals to the Minister following these experiments, will he undertake that before the Government take any decision on the question of importing liquid methane he will circulate a statement giving a full account of the data affecting this question, in particular, the comparative cost factors involved, and also of the political and social aspects?

No. I cannot give an undertaking that I shall behave in exactly that manner, but I have given an undertaking in the past that I should not only weigh up the factors involved very carefully indeed, but that I should inform the House of the factors as soon as the proposals are made and the decision is about to be taken.

Can the Minister give us some idea of when this statement is likely to be forthcoming in view of the wide publicity now being given to the capital expenditure involved by the Gas Council in this and the fact that its scheme seems now to be in a highly developed stage?

I am expecting, as the hon. Member no doubt read this morning, that I shall receive proposals from the Gas Council in the fairly near future.

Would the right hon. Gentleman explain what he means by saying that he will make a statement about the various factors involved when a decision is about to be taken? Does that mean that a statement will be made before the decision is taken, so that this House can have an opportunity of considering it?

I intend, when the Gas Council makes its proposals, to consider them and to make up my mind; and I have already undertaken to tell the House the factors that I took into consideration when I made up my mind.