HC Deb 24 April 1923 vol 163 cc244-5

asked the Pressident of the Board of Trade the number of bore holes put down in the United Kingdom at the expense of the State for the purpose of searching for oil; and will he state the locality and depth of each bore hole, the results obtained, and the total expenditure incurred?

The SECRETARY for MINES (Lieut.-Colonel Lane-Fox)

Full particulars of the locality, depth and results of these borings are given in the Annual Report of the Secretary for Mines for the year 1921. The total expenditure, after allowing for amounts realised by sales of oil, plant and machinery, was approximately 2564,000. At only two of the 11 borings was oil found in appreciable quantities; both these wells have now been disposed of, and, so far as His Majesty's Government are concerned, the operations are at an end.

Captain Viscount CURZON

Could the hon. and gallant Gentleman say in what way these bore holes have been disposed of?

Lieut.-Colonel LANE-FOX

The D'Arcy bore hole has been disposed of to a Scottish syndicate and the Hardstoft bore hole to the Duke of Devonshire.


Will any advantage that attaches to this expenditure accrue to the State or to a privileged company or to individuals?

Lieut.-Colonel LANE-FOX

There has been no pecuniary advantage to the State beyond the information gained, only loss up to date.


Is it not a fact, and is the hon. and gallant Gentleman not aware of it, that in selling these wells you are selling that on which you have spent money, and if you cannot sell knowledge what else have you to sell?

Lieut.-Colonel LANE-FOX

What we have done is the best way of preventing further loss.