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Leicester (Heat And Power)

Volume 116: debated on Monday 11 May 1987

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10.

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a statement on the latest position concerning the supply and purchase of gas by the Leicester Combined Heat and Power Consortium (Leicester Energy Ltd.).

The contractual negotiations are, of course, a commercial matter for the Leicester consortium and its fuel suppliers, but I understand that the consortium has not yet finalised arrangements for the purchase of fuel supplies.

Is my hon. Friend aware that the £80 million investment by the Leicester Combined Heat and Power Consortium (Leicester Energy Ltd.) is under threat because of the difficulty in negotiating a regular long-term supply from British Gas? Is he aware also that it is now considering purchasing a North sea gas field? Can my hon. Friend help in some way to bring prosperity to the area and reduce the cost of oil heating by getting British Gas to offer a more reasonable price for the power available?

I hope my hon. Friend will recognise that it is not for Ministers to intervene in negotiations between the Leicester consortium and its fuel suppliers, but he is right to highlight the importance of the scheme. The consortium is to be congratulated on producing a professional report. I hope that the scheme will go ahead if it can be proved to be economically viable. I repeat that if it had not been for my hon. Friend and my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Leicester, South (Mr. Spencer), we would not have recognised the importance of the scheme in the first place.