§ 19. Mr. Shinwell
asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he will state the composition of the Petroleum Board; whether provision is made for representation from independent companies and utilising the services of consultants not employed by the large oil concerns; and whether he can give an assurance that the organisation created for war purposes will not be used to drive out of the oil business the smaller firms.
Major Lloyd George
The Petroleum Board covers substantially the whole of the petroleum industry in this country so far as it relates to the importation, storage and distribution of oil products. The number of participating concerns is in the neighbourhood of 120. I am sending my hon. Friend a list giving the present membership of the Board. Provision is made for the representation of the smaller constituent companies. The Board has available through the staffs of the constituent 15 companies, adequate technical advice, but they are at liberty to utilise the services of other consultants if they decide that this would be desirable or useful.
As regards the concluding part of the Question, the Petroleum Board was established at the request of H.M. Government as a purely emergency body and the terms of the Agreement by which the Board was formed, make specific provision for limiting its activities to the war period, and a definite period afterwards, necessary for the liquidation of its activities.
§ Mr. Shinwell
Is not the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that the monopolies concerned in the oil distributing industry are able to exclude the services of technical consultants of an independent character, and have done so? Can he give an assurance that they will not be able to create conditions during the war which will crush out small consultants when the war is over?