asked the Minister of Power whether he will make a statement on fuel prospects for the winter.
I am in constant touch with the fuel supply and distribution industries and the following statement is based on information which they have provided about the prospects for this winter.Supplies of oil, and of solid fuels for industrial purposes, are sufficient to meet all foreseeable requirements.With the advance of mechanisation the proportion of large coal in total output continues to fall, but total supplies of solid fuels for the domestic market should be sufficient to meet demand. There may, as in the past, be temporary shortages of particular types of solid fuel in some areas, and distribution could be affected generally in the event of prolonged transport difficulties caused by exceptionally severe weather. Many merchants and many consumers have already built up good reserves. Other merchants and consumers would be well advised to look to their stocks.The rapid and increasing rate of growth in gas sales over the past few years has meant that some Boards are working on narrower margins than they would wish. However, the industry is now better placed than earlier in the winter and should be able to meet demands provided that there are no major plant breakdowns or abnormally prolonged spells of cold weather, though there might be local reductions in pressure.Total generating capacity has not yet overtaken the increasing demand for electricity. This is partly because the growth of demand was under-estimated some years ago, and partly because there have been delays in the delivery and commissioning of new generating plant. In exceptionally severe weather some cuts may have to be made, but in an average winter it should be possible to meet the demand, perhaps with some reductions in voltage at peak hours.