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Mr. Dickens : It was not my intention to give that impression. I was outlining alternative uses for coal, such as gasification : I was advocating not the replacement of coal, but its further and different use.

Mr. Clapham : I take on board the hon. Gentleman's comments, but his reference to market forces gives the impression that he is talking in terms of the replacement of coal through the interaction of those market forces. May I refer him to the situation in Holland, where, for example, in Buggenum, a $600 million clean-coal technology plant was opened ? It is a 250 MW plant, and the Dutch are looking to the future and talking of building another six. That country has 70 years of gas reserves, yet it is looking to new, clean-coal technology, because it believes that gas prices are likely to increase.

New clause 4 refers not only to the Coal Research Establishment, but to new technology in the coal mining industry. I hope that the Minister will be prepared to tell us that he will ensure that that technology will be available to the industry. Unless we can run an establishment that provides for a universal application of new technology


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throughout the industry, we are likely to find high-technology collieries competing against low-technology collieries, forcing down wages, and terms and conditions, to 19th-century levels.

It is extremely important that we have an establishment such as the Technical Services and Research Executive, which took over from the Mines Research and Development Establishment, so that new technology will be available to the new owners. If we do not take that route, we are likely to find that we degenerate towards 19th-century working practices. I hope that the Minister will be prepared to take on the provisions of new clause 4.

Mr. McLoughlin : Some of the points covered relate to the useful debate that we had on amendment No. 23 in Committee. The Government recognise the importance of ensuring that full advantage is taken of advances in coal research and mining technology. However, it must be primarily for the industry to decide what research it will need to develop- -where appropriate, in partnership with the Government, through bodies such as the Advisory Committee on Coal Research. The Government have already established a firm foundation for coal research in the United Kingdom, first by increasing Department funding from less than £3 million to £7 million a year until 1995-96. Precise funding needs after that will be agreed following the planned review of the programme involving the industry in 1995. We are also establishing the new Advisory Committee on Coal Research, to replace the coal task force and advise on United Kingdom coal research needs across the board. United Kingdom industry and universities are playing a leading part in the work of the new committee.

The Government are also establishing collaborative research links between United Kingdom industry and universities, and with other EC countries and the United States. There is therefore no need for the authority to take on a co-ordinating role that we believe is already being adequately fulfilled. The authority is intended to be a non-interventionist body, and should not support the R and D work that is more appropriately funded by the industry itself. I have every confidence that the future coal companies will be able to find the most appropriate mechanisms for co-ordinating their activities where there is benefit to be derived from doing so.

The hon. Member for Delyn (Mr. Hanson) let the cat out of the bag : he revealed his hatred for the private sector when he referred to it as a jungle. Without the research that has come from that "jungle", there would not have been the levels of investment or the developments that the hon. Member for Midlothian (Mr. Clarke) mentioned.

The Department's coal research and development programme is increasing, and contributes to about 115 projects, with a total value of more than £170 million. Since the coal review White Paper, we have initiated more than 60 coal research projects covering coal utilisation and mining issues. Many more are at the planning stage, and involve the Coal Research Establishment as well as the United Kingdom industry, universities and overseas agencies. In 1994, we intend to publish a detailed strategy paper setting out our future plans for coal research and describing the work under way in the present programme.

Several hon. Members spoke about the CRE. Its future is a matter for British Coal, and I understand that no decision has yet been taken. However, the Government believe that the best way of widening the opportunities


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available to the CRE in world markets is for it to become more of an independent organisation. The increased support that the Government offer over the next two years will ensure that senior management have sufficient time to develop CRE's business further and to attract funds from elsewhere.

My hon. Friend the Member for Littleborough and Saddleworth (Mr. Dickens) rightly told us that industry should decide on its own research and fund it, but funding should also be available through national bodies. The Department of Trade and Industry helps in several ways, some of which I have already outlined.

British Coal is managing the arrangements for the future of the ancillary parts of its current business, and is considering the options for the Technical Services and Research Executive. One aspect of TSRE's activities- -the health and safety expertise--was highlighted by the Health and Safety Commission. The commission said that it would be desirable for that expertise to continue to be available after privatisation.

The corporation is fully aware of the commission's advice to the Government, and shares the Government's determination that safety should be the first priority. It has assured us that its proposals will be fully consistent with the commission's advice.

The House will want to know that we have agreed with the corporation that additional public funding of more than £2 million will be available between 1995 and 1998 to ensure that that valuable programme of research continues, and that the necessary expertise is available to the new owners of the industry. Indeed, my hon. Friend the Minister for Energy answered a parliamentary question on the subject yesterday, and his reply is recorded at column 43 of Hansard .

We have demonstrated that the Government take the issue seriously, so I ask my hon. Friends to reject the new clause.

Mr. O'Neill : The Opposition will press the new clause to a vote, because the Minister's answers were wholly unsatisfactory. The engine that has driven coal technology research and the other research programmes in Britain has been British Coal and its predecessor, the National Coal Board. The Opposition believe that, in the absence of such a state-owned agency, we need something else. The Coal Authority operating a levy would be the best means of doing that, so I urge my hon. Friends to vote for the new clause.

Question put , That the clause be read a Second time :

The House divided : Ayes 273, Noes 296.

Division No. 176] [10 pm

AYES

Abbott, Ms Diane

Adams, Mrs Irene

Ainger, Nick

Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)

Allen, Graham

Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)

Anderson, Ms Janet (Ros'dale)

Armstrong, Hilary

Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy

Ashton, Joe

Austin-Walker, John

Banks, Tony (Newham NW)

Barnes, Harry

Barron, Kevin

Battle, John

Bayley, Hugh

Beckett, Rt Hon Margaret

Beith, Rt Hon A. J.

Bell, Stuart

Benn, Rt Hon Tony

Bennett, Andrew F.

Benton, Joe

Bermingham, Gerald

Berry, Roger

Betts, Clive

Blair, Tony

Blunkett, David

Boateng, Paul


Column 226

Boyes, Roland

Bradley, Keith

Bray, Dr Jeremy

Brown, Gordon (Dunfermline E)

Brown, N. (N'c'tle upon Tyne E)

Burden, Richard

Byers, Stephen

Caborn, Richard

Callaghan, Jim

Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)

Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)

Campbell-Savours, D. N.

Canavan, Dennis

Cann, Jamie

Chisholm, Malcolm

Clapham, Michael

Clark, Dr David (South Shields)

Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)

Clelland, David

Clwyd, Mrs Ann

Coffey, Ann

Cohen, Harry

Connarty, Michael

Cook, Frank (Stockton N)

Cook, Robin (Livingston)

Corbett, Robin

Corbyn, Jeremy

Corston, Ms Jean

Cousins, Jim

Cryer, Bob

Cummings, John

Cunliffe, Lawrence

Cunningham, Jim (Covy SE)

Dafis, Cynog

Dalyell, Tam

Darling, Alistair

Davidson, Ian

Davies, Bryan (Oldham C'tral)

Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)

Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)

Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'l)

Dewar, Donald

Dixon, Don

Dobson, Frank

Donohoe, Brian H.

Dowd, Jim

Dunnachie, Jimmy

Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth

Eagle, Ms Angela

Eastham, Ken

Enright, Derek

Etherington, Bill

Evans, John (St Helens N)

Fatchett, Derek

Faulds, Andrew

Field, Frank (Birkenhead)

Flynn, Paul

Foster, Rt Hon Derek

Foster, Don (Bath)

Foulkes, George

Fraser, John

Fyfe, Maria

Galbraith, Sam

Galloway, George

Gapes, Mike

Garrett, John

George, Bruce

Gerrard, Neil

Godman, Dr Norman A.

Godsiff, Roger

Golding, Mrs Llin

Gordon, Mildred

Gould, Bryan

Graham, Thomas

Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)

Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)

Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)

Grocott, Bruce

Gunnell, John

Hain, Peter

Hall, Mike

Hanson, David

Hardy, Peter

Harman, Ms Harriet

Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy

Henderson, Doug

Heppell, John

Hill, Keith (Streatham)

Hinchliffe, David

Hoey, Kate

Hogg, Norman (Cumbernauld)

Home Robertson, John

Hood, Jimmy

Hoon, Geoffrey

Howarth, George (Knowsley N)

Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)

Hoyle, Doug

Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)

Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)

Hughes, Roy (Newport E)

Hughes, Simon (Southwark)

Hutton, John

Ingram, Adam

Jackson, Glenda (H'stead)

Jackson, Helen (Shef'ld, H)

Jamieson, David

Janner, Greville

Jones, Barry (Alyn and D'side)

Jones, Ieuan Wyn (Ynys Mo n)

Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)

Jones, Lynne (B'ham S O)

Jones, Martyn (Clwyd, SW)

Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)

Jowell, Tessa

Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald

Keen, Alan

Kennedy, Charles (Ross,C&S)

Kennedy, Jane (Lpool Brdgn)

Khabra, Piara S.

Kilfoyle, Peter

Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil (Islwyn)

Kirkwood, Archy

Lestor, Joan (Eccles)

Lewis, Terry

Litherland, Robert

Livingstone, Ken

Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)

Llwyd, Elfyn

Loyden, Eddie

Lynne, Ms Liz

McAllion, John

McAvoy, Thomas

McCartney, Ian

McCrea, Rev William

Macdonald, Calum

McFall, John

McKelvey, William

Mackinlay, Andrew

McLeish, Henry

McMaster, Gordon

McNamara, Kevin

McWilliam, John

Madden, Max

Maddock, Mrs Diana

Mahon, Alice

Mandelson, Peter

Marek, Dr John

Marshall, David (Shettleston)

Marshall, Jim (Leicester, S)

Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)

Martlew, Eric

Maxton, John

Meacher, Michael

Michael, Alun

Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)

Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll Bute)

Milburn, Alan

Miller, Andrew

Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)

Moonie, Dr Lewis


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