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Mr. Maclean : The report of the Southwood working party estimated that 350 to 400 new cases of BSE might occur per month. In recent months around 800 cases have been confirmed. This is consistent with the single source epidemic described by Southwood.
Column 78processes are necessary to deactivate the bovine spongiform encephalopathy agent in meat and bone meal ; and if he will make a statement.
20. Mr. John P. Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what is his most up-to-date estimate of the percentage increase in domestic electricity prices in April for the following 12 months ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Wakeham : It is for the area boards to set their own domestic tariffs from 1 April this year following their contract negotiations with generators. Ministers have said that they will approve the initial contracts to ensure that the terms are reasonable.
Mr. Baldry : In the period December 1984 to December 1989 domestic electricity prices decreased in real terms by 8 per cent. In the period May 1974 to May 1979 (the last five years of the last Labour Government) domestic electricity prices increased in real terms by 9 per cent.
Column 7948. Mr. Patchett : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy when he last met the chairman of British Coal ; and what matters were discussed.
Mr. Baldry : This will be a matter for Nuclear Electric. The company will need to offer salaries and benefits sufficient to retain and recruit the skilled staff it needs to run its nuclear stations safely and efficiently.
21. Sir Fergus Montgomery : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what has been the improvement in energy efficiency in the United Kingdom since 1979 ; and what information he has for the rest of the European Community.
Mr. Peter Morrison : Energy consumption is virtually unchanged, but GDP has risen by 20 per cent. Between 1982 and 1986, the latest period for which European Community figures are available, our rate of improvement was twice the Community average.
Mr. Peter Morrison : Community insulation projects have played a valuable role in combining implementation of basic insulation measures in low-income households with training for the unemployed. The Social Security Bill, which received its Second Reading on 22 January, will give my right hon. Friend powers to introduce a new scheme of grant not dependent on the availability of trainees. The costs and benefits of this scheme will be monitored and evaluated in the normal way.
Mr. Peter Morrison : Existing programmes by the Energy Efficiency Office to encourage and promote energy efficiency in housing include publication of relevant information and advice under the best practice programme ; support for community insulation projects ; marketing and publicity initiatives, targeted on low-income households and on those moving house or undertaking improvements ; and liaison arrangements with professional bodies in the building sector to encourage building professionals to give greater consideration to energy efficiency in the design of buildings. The Social Security Bill, which received its Second Reading on 22 January, will enable my right hon. Friend to build on the arrangements to promote energy efficiency in low-income households through the introduction of a new scheme of grants.
Mr. Peter Morrison : The principal purpose of community insulation projects is to help those on low incomes to be more efficient in their use of energy. The Social Security Bill, which received its Second Reading on 22 January, will give my right hon. Friend powers to introduce a new scheme of grants towards the costs of insulation measures in low-income households. I expect the new scheme to increase significantly the rate at which such measures are implemented.
Mr. Peter Morrison : Prospects for the oil production industry are extremely encouraging. I expect continued recovery of oil output in 1990. Output could be up to 10 million tonnes higher than the 1989 level of 91 million tonnes.
26. Dr. Kim Howells : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what is his most up-to-date estimate of the prospective increase in greenhouse gases emission from all energy sources in the United Kingdom by the year 2005.
Column 81Mr. Peter Morrison : Estimates of such emissions under a wide range of scenarios for economic growth and energy prices were included in a study, carried out last year by my Department, entitled, "An evaluation of Energy Related Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Measures to Ameliorate Them". This was part of the United Kingdom's input to the work of the energy and industry subgroup to the response strategies working group of the UNEP/WMO intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC). A copy of the study was placed in the Library of the House on 30 November 1989 ; and it is to be published this week as Energy Paper 58.
32. Mr. Brandon-Bravo : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what assessment he has made of the prospects for the establishment of independent generators after the privatisation of the electricity supply industry.
Mr. Baldry : The encouragement of competition in generation has always been one of the fundamental aims of our privatisation proposals. My Department is aware of around 20 major private generation projects in prospect, totalling some 7GW of capacity. The first of the new independent generating companies to take advantage of the opportunities offered as a result of our proposals is Lakeland Power, which last October signed a contract with the North Western electricity board.
Mr. Peter Morrison : New capital expenditure in oil and gas development is estimated to reach £3.7 billion in 1990--an increase of 75 per cent. compared with £2.1 billion in 1988--which clearly will improve the prospects for the United Kingdom offshore supplies industry, including the fabrication sector, in 1990 and beyond. Current level of fabrication activity is 229,000 tonnes.
31. Dr. Michael Clark : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what proportion of his Department's research budget was spent on alternative energy sources in the last year for which figures are available.
My Department contributed to the cost of the Cornwall energy project conducted by the Cornwall county council. Proposals for specific pieces of work arising from the first study are expected. The geothermal hot dry rocks project operated by the Camborne School of Mines is progressing to schedule. A review of progress of the programme and future possibilities with the school is under way. The Central Electricity Generating Board is progressing plans for an 8MW wind farm at Cold Northcott. My Department expects to contribute up to one third of the cost.
33. Mr. Martyn Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what is his latest estimate of the additional cost of the non-fossil fuel obligation subsequent to vesting day in the electricity supply industry.
Mr. Baldry : Customers currently pay for nuclear power in their electricity bills. The introduction of the non-fossil fuel obligation will not change this. The additional cost of meeting the obligation compared with the cost of generating the same electricity from fossil sources will be shown in the fossil fuel levy. It is too early to say what the initial size of the levy will be.
36. Mr. McLeish : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what discussions he has had with British Coal about the future of the industry in Scotland and the recent Court of Session judgments over the validity of contracts between British Coal and the South of Scotland electricity board.
Mr. Baldry : I meet the chairman of British Coal regularly to discuss all aspects of the coal industry. The Court of Session judgments over the validity of contracts between British Coal and the SSEB are a matter for the parties concerned.
Mr. Peter Morrison : My Department is supporting a wide-ranging programme of studies on potential tidal energy sites in the United Kingdom. The aim of the current work is to reduce the uncertainty on costs, performance and regional and environmental issues to the point where it will be possible to take decisions on whether to plan for construction.
44. Mr. Hood : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what are the most up-to-date figures or estimates available to him of the tonnage of coal imports into (a) Scotland and (b) Great Britain as a whole for 1989, 1990, 1991.
|Million |tonnes ------------------------------ Scotland |1.5 Great Britain |10.9 Source: Her Majesty's Customs and Excise (port of entry basis)
Mr. Peter Morrison : A total of 26 oil and gas pipelines to fixed offshore installations are fitted with sub-sea isolation systems. In addition, all oil and gas pipeline risers to the six floating production platforms on the United Kingdom continental shelf are fitted with these systems.
Mr. Baldry : For the week ended 31 December 1988 there were 85,883 men on British Coal's colliery books. The equivalent figure for the week ended 30 December 1989 was 66,059. The Government do not make estimates of future manning levels in British Coal. Such levels depend on a number of factors, including the corporation's continued ability to raise its competitiveness.
Mr. Baldry : British Coal has an international reputation for research and development into new methods of burning coal and an impressive record of introducing new ideas commercially in association with plant manufacturers. Government support for pre-commercial research and development on new combustion technologies is made available from time to time as appropriate, such as at British Coal's Grimethorpe facility, where £17 million was provided for pressurised fluidised bed combustion over the period 1976 to 1984, and up to a further £8 million offered last year for a three-year programme on British Coal's topping cycle concept.
49. Mr. Ray Powell : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what is his most up-to-date estimate of the level of investment in energy conservation by the (a) domestic, (b) industrial and (c) public sectors over the next five years.
Mr. Peter Morrison : Investment in energy efficiency measures is a matter for individual consumers and the information requested is not available ; where the Government are directly responsible, we have begun a campaign which is expected to lead to Government Departments increasing their investment in energy efficiency by up to 10 per cent. of their annual expenditure on energy.
Column 85Mr. Baldry : My right hon. Friend and I intend to meet the chairman of Nuclear Electric whenever necessary to discuss matters of concern to Nuclear Electric.
Mr. Baldry : I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy to the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) on 18 December 1989, column 6.
Mr. Amos : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what provisions are being made in all the offices and other places under his Department's control for the convenience and comfort of non-smokers ; and if he will make a statement on his Department's policy for non-smokers.
Mr. Wakeham : The only premises for which my Department has prime responsibility are its headquarters at 1 Palace street, SW1. The policy there is that staff are asked to refrain from smoking in offices where there is a non-smoker ; and that smoking is not allowed in most common areas of the building. The operation of these arrangements will be kept under review in consultation with staff.
Mr. Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy (1) if he will make it his policy that the prospectuses for the sale of shares in National Power and PowerGen include the commitment to instal flue gas desulphurisation in 12,000 MW of generating capacity to achieve the EC target of 60 per cent. reduction in sulphur dioxide emissions ;
(2) if he will make it his policy to ensure that Britain's electricity- generating industry pursues the EC programme of installing flue gas desulphurisation in 12,000 MW of generating capacity to achieve the 60 per cent. reduction in sulphur dioxide emissions by 2003 ;
(3) if he will make it his policy to ensure that National Power and PowerGen complete the EC programme of flue gas desulphurisation to cut sulphur dioxide emissions by 60 per cent. by the year 2003 ; (4) what consultation he (a) has had and (b) expects to have regarding the British electricity-generating industry's programme to instal flue gas desulphurisation in 12,000 MW of capacity to achieve the EC target of 60 per cent. reduction in sulphur dioxide emissions by the year 2003.
Mr. Baldry : The Government are determined to implement in full the EC large combustion plants directive. This directive commits the United Kingdom to reduce its emissions of sulphur dioxide (and nitrogen oxides) from existing plants, such as fossil-fuelled power stations, but does not specify the means by which this should be done. Retrofitting flue gas desulphurisation equipment will play
Column 86a major part in this, but the burning of low sulphur fuels, including gas, may also contribute. The prospectuses for the sale of National Power and PowerGen will explain how they plan to achieve the reductions required of them. The Government invited public comment last August on their plans to implement the directive. Further consultation will take place before a plan for reductions of emissions from existing plants is issued.
Dr. Kim Howells : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy (1) if supplies of French nuclear-generated electricity imported via the cross- Channel interconnector will be included within the non-fossil fuel quota of electricity supplied to the grid in the United Kingdom ;
(2) what steps he will be taking to ensure that there is no subsidisation of nuclear-generated electricity purchased from Electricite de France under the arrangements for the non-fossil fuel quota.
Mr. Baldry : The cross-Channel link was built to be used for electricity trading in both directions and mutual assistance. Recent trading has been in both directions. Negotiations are taking place with Electricite de France for these arrangements to continue in future. Given the interruptible nature of these arrangements, imports through the link will not qualify for inclusion in the non-fossil fuel obligation. Electricity sales through the link will be on a fully commercial basis, without subsidy.