HC Deb 10 November 1969 vol 791 cc28-9
32. Mr. J. H. Osborn

asked the Minister of Technology whether he is satisfied that the conditions governing applications by January, 1970, for licences in new areas of the North Sea and Irish Sea are such as to ensure an adequate exploration effort; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Benn

Yes, Sir; I have nothing to add to the information given by my right hon. Friend the then Minister of Power on 23rd July.—[Vol. 787, c. 1734.]

Mr. Osborn

Has the Minister had time to assess the impact of the conditions of independent companies working with nationalised industries being favoured and proposals in the Queen's Speech concerning international oil companies? Is the Minister satisfied that this will not hold back oil and natural gas exploration rather than encourage it?

Mr. Benn

There are many grounds for confidence that that is not likely to happen, one of which is that the geological prospects for the area will determine the interests of the companies rather more than any other factor. I believe that my right hon. Friend got the balance right in his announcement during the summer and we are looking forward to the applications, which are now being invited and will be assessed by early next year.