HC Deb 26 November 1958 vol 596 cc351-2
15. Mr. Janner

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the Report of the Economic Committee of the Council of Europe that natural gas from the Sahara to Europe might be delivered in London and other European ports at a low cost; and to what extent he is contemplating negotiations for the study and possible realisation of a large scale plan.

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

The Report of the Economic Committee was debated by the Consultative Assembly on 15th October, when a Recommendation was adopted calling on the Committee of Ministers to invite the European and African Governments most closely concerned to open negotiations for the study of a possible plan to transport natural gas from the Northern Sahara for distribution in Africa and Europe. The Recommendation has been brought to the attention of the Organisation for European Economic Cooperation, but no substantive discussion has yet taken place. Her Majesty's Government await the outcome of the discussions in O.E.E.C. and in the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.

Mr. Janner

Will the right hon. Gentleman say what steps are being taken with a view to our entering the negotiations speedily, since there is a tremendous difference between the estimated cost of the production of gas in this way, about one-fifth or one-seventh of a penny per therm, as against the present 1s. 3d. or 1s. 4d.? Would not that make a substantial difference to industrial and domestic consumers?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

These are very technical matters and I do not consider myself a great expert on them. This matter is being discussed in O.E.E.C., of which we are a member, and we are taking part in the discussions.

Mr. Robens

When the right hon. Gentleman is discussing this matter, will he remember that our basic industry, coal, must be preserved?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

That is not a Question for me.

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