HC Deb 10 November 1969 vol 791 cc32-3
35. Mr. Emery

asked the Minister of Technology what percentage of the 4,000 million cubic feet per day of natural gas projected in the power policy statement for 1975 is now under contract; how much more is under negotiation; and what figure he estimates will be available from British sources by 1975 and 1978.

Mr. Benn

Contracts already signed should provide about 3 billion cubic feet per day by 1975. Contracts under negotiation should give at least another 0.7 billion cubic feet per day. I am confident that not less than 4 billion cubic feet per day will be available by 1975 or soon after.

Mr. Emery

In thanking the Minister for that reply, may I ask him to consider that it is not the geological prospects, as he mentioned in an earlier Answer. which will determine the interests of people for new licences, but their ability to sell the gas in this country? What review, therefore, has he in mind above the 4,000 million cubic feet per day level so that people can be assured that if gas is discovered, it will be possible for it to be marketed?

Mr. Benn

The marketing question was not included on the Order Paper but is obviously highly relevant. I have no reason to believe that the marketing a'pects will create difficulty, but if the hon. Member has any reason to believe that that is the case, perhaps he will put it to me.

Mr. Lubbock

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that contrary to the fears expressed by the hon. Member for Finchley (Mrs. Thatcher) when acting as Opposition "shadow" spokesman on power, not only will there be 4,000 million cubic feet a day by 1975, but the Gas Council will have much more than that at its disposal? There will be no difficulty in marketing it in the period from 1975 to 1980, when at least double this quantity will be sold. Will the right hon. Gentleman in future kindly express these quantities in cubic metres rather than in cubic feet?

Mr. Benn

I am so grateful to the hon. Member for what he has said that I should like to circulate him with the OFFICIAL REPORT.