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Volume 973: debated on Thursday 8 November 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a statement on anthracite supplies and the level of imports.

In the first seven months of the current financial year—April to October inclusive—the NCB supplied the United Kingdom domestic market with 60,000 tonnes more of naturally smokeless fuels—anthracite and dry steam—than in the corresponding period last year. A further improvement is expected in the remaining five months of the year when the new mine at Betws in South Wales comes fully into operation.However, despite this upward trend, the NCB still has insufficient naturally smokeless fuels to meet all requirements, mainly because of an upsurge in demand following the oil crisis earlier in the year. Imports are therefore continuing and are expected to amount to about 200,000 tonnes over the year, representing between 13 per cent and 14 per cent. of the market for naturally smokeless fuels.