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Solid Smokeless Fuels (Report)

Volume 640: debated on Thursday 18 May 1961

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asked the Minister of Power if he will make a further statement on the recommendations made in the report of the Committee on Solid Smokeless Fuels, Command Paper No. 999.

The Report of the Committee on Solid Smokeless Fuels (Cmnd. 999) has been fully considered by Government Departments in consultation with the Gas Council, the National Coal Board and other organisations. The Government welcomes the Committee's recommendations and considerable progress has been made in implementing them.In most areas there is a prospect of adequate supplies of coke suitable for burning in improved grates to meet the rising demand. Seven of the twelve gas boards are now producing and marketing as "Gloco" improved open fire cokes complying with the British Standard Specification. Other gas boards are marketing cokes that are also satisfactory for burning on an open fire with an improved grate. In order to ensure that these cokes are used to the best advantage, the gas industry is consulting the distributors and doing its best to see they are bought by consumers with appropriate appliances and that advice on their use is freely available.The gas industry has increased its production of premium smokeless fuels which are specially reactive and can be burnt on any open grate. My Department and the industry are discussing further increases in output. Capacity is likely to be available in the gas industry to meet the potential shortage of premium smokeless fuels in 1962, to which the Committee drew attention. Looking to the future, the National Coal Board is developing two new types of premium smokeless fuel, one at Birch Coppice in Warwickshire and the other at Graigola in Glamorganshire. Progress at both pilot plants has been satisfactory and the Board hope to have substantial quantities of these premium fuels on sale by 1965.The Committee foresaw that supplies of open fire smokeless fuels in the Northern Region and in Scotland might become scarce as time goes on. The Government is discussing with the producers the best way of ensuring that supplies of these fuels will be available in these areas when they are needed.My right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government has now decided that, in smoke control areas in those parts of the Northern Region where smokeless open fire fuels are scarce, grant may be paid on closed stoves which will burn hard coke of which large stocks are available in the area. My right hon. Friend will shortly explain the new arrangements to the local authorities concerned. Meanwhile the British Standards Institution is working on a specification for fuels suitable for closed stoves.A Paper containing the smoke control programmes of local authorities in the black areas in England and Wales was published last July (Cmnd. 1113). This should help producers and distributors of fuels in planning to meet the demand for smokeless fuels arising from the Clean Air Programme. The information contained in the White Paper will be brought up to date from time to time.The Social Survey Division of the Central Office of Information is now making a full survey of domestic fuel use in sixty smoke control areas in England and Scotland. The results should be available later in the year and should provide additional information of value to the future planning of supplies.In view of the importance of smokeless fuel I have asked my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to become Chairman of the National Advisory Committee on Smokeless Fuels. This national committee was set up by my predecessor so that he could be given the authoritative advice of producers and distributors of smokeless fuels.