§ 17. Mr. Dormand
asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he is satisfied with the progress being made on coal liquefaction; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. John Moore
The NCB has developed two very promising oil-from-coal processes, and discussions are at present taking place with the board on the best course for further action. I am satisfied with the progress of these discussions.
§ Mr. Dormand
Does the Minister agree that that answer reflects yet again the Government's complacency in this matter? Will the Minister give not only more financial support, but moral support to this most exciting project? Does he agree also that the fact that the European Community and BP are prepared to give money towards the construction of the project that he mentioned shows that it should be supplemented by assistance from the Government?
§ Mr. Moore
Highly complex considerations are involved here on the technical front and in the organisation of the consortium that is to participate in the next stage. The Government are well aware of the urgency of the matter, but very complex issues are involved. The Government are in the middle of discussions with the board on the subject.
§ Sir David Price
Since coal gasification has been known for a long time, and bearing in mind the significance of the comparative price, will my hon. Friend remember that a long lead time is involved here? Will he therefore consider promoting a joint venture between the NCB and the chemical industry?
§ Mr. Eadie
Since the Minister's Front Bench team has been trying to tell us today how dynamic the Department is, does he accept that his answers do not smack of dynamic government? The Government have had two years in which to reappraise this project. Is it true that, as 625 press reports indicate, Ministers are bringing in other scientists to reappraise the project, which had already been agreed upon? Is it not time that the liquefaction programme went ahead and that all the shilly-shallying, with only the expectation of results in the near future, was brought to an end?