§ The Under-Secretary of State for Energy (Mr. Giles Shaw)
In 1974 coal generated 56 per cent. of the United Kingdom's public electricity supply. By 1982 this had risen to 74 per cent.
§ Mr. Lofthouse
Will the Minister confirm that, as a result of the incident at Selby coalfield this week, less coal will be available for the generation of electricity? Does the Minister accept that there is great concern that a flooding of that nature can take place when the project has so far cost £1,000 million and is blessed with all the mining expertise and modern technology? Does he agree that there must be an investigation by Her Majesty's inspectorate, mining engineers and geologists to ascertain whether it was a one-off incident or whether it will be common to the Selby coalfield, and whether the coalfield will be safe?
§ Mr. Skeet
How will Ferrybridge, Eggborough, Drax and other power stations be supplied with coal if Selby cannot supply them? Will the incident have a long-term effect on the mine? How did the incident suddenly occur —a parliamentary party was there last week and had no knowledge of it? How did the problem suddenly surface?
§ Mr. Shaw
This is a matter for the NCB to assess. The first assessment suggests that the incident is such that it sees no reason for delaying the start of the second west 771 face, scheduled for late December. I do not think that that will be delayed. In relation to supply to power stations, my hon. Friend is aware of the large stocks available.
§ Mr. Shaw
Given the state of energy demand, there is a lack of demand for certain types of fuel. The question by my hon. Friend the Member for Staffordshire, Moorlands (Mr. Knox) referred to the substantial preponderance of coal among the fuels required for electricity generation. That is the important point.