HC Deb 30 July 1918 vol 109 cc238-9
45. Mr. G. LAMBERT

asked the Prime Minister whether the firm of S. Pearson and Sons have offered to place the whole of their geological and oil expert staff gratuitously at the disposal of the Government; whether Messrs. Pearson anticipate to strike oil within six months in this country at the rate of tens of thousands of tons of oil per annum; whether the whole of Messrs. Pearson's staff are ready at once to commence operations; whether the sole cause of the delay to commence boring is the failure of the Government to introduce legislation to enable Messrs. Pearson to conserve the oil for the nation by the most profitable methods; and, if so, whether such legislation will at once be passed to secure in Britain a motive power for the British Navy?

The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Bonar Law)

Messrs. S. Pearson and Sons have made an offer substantially to the effect stated in the question, and I understand that their staff are ready to commence operations, but the firm are desirous that before actual boring is commenced a Bill should be introduced for restricting indiscriminate boring for oil. An endeavour has been made to settle a Bill which could be passed by general agreement, and I hope that such a Bill may be introduced this week.


May we take it it will be passed before the House adjourns?


As I have said, it is hoped that such a Bill will have general agreement; if so, and there is any chance of passing it it will be passed. If it is not passed, I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that the question will be dealt with in another way.

Major WOOD

Are we to understand from that that it is proposed to confer a monopoly upon this firm?


No, Sir. Messrs. Pearson in this matter are acting as the agents of the Government; but the difficulty raised by the hon. Gentleman is a real one, and I am not sure, if the Bill is not passed, that it will be easy to make arrangements with the firm. However, Lord Cowdray is anxious to help the Government, and I feel certain that in some way or another he will make arrangements.