asked the Minister of Power if he is aware that a number of major industrialists in the West Midlands have been officially informed that they can expect their gas supplies to be halved or stopped altogether in the event of cold spells during the next four months; and what action he is taking to prevent such a reduction in gas supplies, in view of the fact that such supplies are essential to the production of large volumes of manufactured goods, many of which would be exported.
asked the Minister of Power if he aware of the Gas Board's decision in some areas officially to inform industrial users to expect a reduction in gas supplies this winter; and if he will give a general direction in the national interest to the Gas Boards to review their closure programme of coal-based gas works in view of the adequate supplies of gas coal.
I understand that the West Midlands Gas Board is discussing with major consumers whether there are any ways in which gas consumption can be reduced without seriously affecting industrial production, should the need to do so arise. I welcome this as a wise precaution, undertaken partly in response to suggestions made by industrialists. It should not be taken as an indication that cuts in supplies will occur.The closure of carbonisation plants is not a relevant factor in the present situation. These plants are kept in operation so long as they can be manned and do not require heavy expenditure on rebuilding.