56. Mr. J. Hill
asked the Minister of Power, in view of the decision of Scottish Oils Limited to close the shale mines in the Lothians, what steps he proposes to take, other than by way of subsidy, to preserve this source of supply of indigenous oil.
Is the Minister aware that a year ago the late Member for West Lothian and I were promised by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury that the Government were taking steps to try to assist the shale oil industry other than by subsidy? Is this the way they intend to assist it—by closing it down?
At the same time, 1,000 men are to lose their jobs within six weeks, while nothing is being done to find them jobs elsewhere. Should not something be done about that situation?
§ Mr. Lawson
In view of the hundreds of millions of £s being spent on subsidising farming, should not some little assistance be given to the shale oil industry, which is so important in my hon. Friend's constituency?
§ Mr. T. Fraser
Is it not a matter for the right hon. Gentleman to take steps to preserve the sources of supply of an indigenous oil?
§ Mr. Wood
It would be a matter for me to take steps if I were convinced that the use of this indigenous fuel were so important that it could not possibly be dispensed with, but, as the hon. Gentleman knows, it represents only a very small part of our needs, and I do not think that this is, therefore, a matter in which I can intervene.
§ Dr. Dickson Mabon
While this industry may be only very small nationally, does it not represent a very important part of the economy of Scotland? As the amount of money involved is so small, could not some way be found to keep this industry going, at least for the next ten years in order to accommodate the men who have preserved it for fifty years? Should not the matter be given second consideration?