§ 20. Sir G. Nabarro
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what total tonnage of coal, deep mined and opencast, was mined in Great Britain during the 12 months ended 30th April, 1972; what tonnage was imported in the same period; and what was the total cost of such imports, cost, insurance and freight value at British ports.
§ Mr. Tom Boardman
Total coal production, deep mined and opencast, in the 52 weeks ended 22nd April was 119 million tons. In the 12 months to the end of March, 5 million tons were imported at a total c.i.f. cost of £49 million. Production figures are published in the Department's Weekly Statistical Statement and imports in the monthly Overseas Trade Statistics.
§ Sir G. Nabarro
I read the figures assiduously every week. But will my hon. Friend bear in mind that the £49 million of coal imports is a dreadful and unnecessary burden on the balance of payments? Can he say what estimates he has made of tonnage needed to bring total coal output up to requirements in the next 12 months in order to eliminate imports of coal altogether?
§ Mr. Boardman
The question whether it is wise to import is a matter of judgment by merchants and consumers. The total amount of the imports is marginal. My lion. Friend will be aware that imports of certain high-grade coals can help towards the consumption of lower-grade domestic coals in generating stations.
§ Mr. Boardman
I am sure that that is a matter which the National Coal Board will be looking at with considerable interest.