HC Deb 05 April 1971 vol 815 c25
25. Mr. Douglas

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimates he has made of the future trend of invesment in oil refining capacity in the United Kingdom.

Sir J. Eden

Extensions now in hand will increase United Kingdom refinery capacity by 28.5 million tons. A number of companies have further extensions under consideration.

Mr. Douglas

Will the Minister on occasion give us dates when he indicates increases in capacity? Down to what date does the figure of 28.5 million tons refer? Are these expansions firm, and can we be sure that they will not be undermined by the Government's policy of switching from investment grants to tax-based allowances?

Sir J. Eden

I cannot specify the date by which the various projects will be concluded, but these are schemes which are now in hand and which will lead to this increased capacity. The second part of the hon. Gentleman's question will be answered by the companies themselves, which are considering their own schemes. All the evidence I have is that they are proceeding.

Mr. Lane

When looking at the benefit to the balance of payments from the further expansion of refinement capacity, does not my hon. Friend agree that the balance of payments already benefits by over £200 million a year from the worldwide operation of British-based oil companies, compared with what the position would be if we had to depend wholly on foreign companies for our oil supplies?

Sir J. Eden

Yes, Sir. There is very substantial benefit to our balance of payments from this investment.