asked the Secretary of State for Energy what is his policy towards the proportion of electricity to be generated by coal; if any changes in this policy have been made recently or are contemplated; and if he will make a statement.
In 1980–81, 82·3 per cent. of the electricity supplied by the CEGB was generated from coal, 10·7 per cent. from nuclear power, and 7 per cent. from oil.
The proportions are likely to have been similar in 1981–82. The precise proportions in the future will depend upon the development of electricity demand and on the availability and relative prices of fuels. There is at present adequate coal-fired capacity on the CEGB's system to ensure that coal burn can generally be maintained at the economic maximum.
It continues to be the Government's policy to ensure that supplies of fuel for electricity generation are available at competitive prices. Provided that such supplies of coal are available, there is unlikely to be any significant downturn in coal-burn in the short term. In line with the Government's international commitments to reduce the use of oil where possible, the CEGB minimises its oil burn to that which is necessary economically, for technical reasons, or because of short term problems of fuel supply. In the longer term we are likely to need an increasing contribution from nuclear power to complement coal.
Electricity in Scotland is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland.