HC Deb 04 December 1972 vol 847 cc881-2
4. Dr. Dickson Mabon

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will establish a separate office of the Petroleum Division of his Department in Scotland.

The Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Mr. Peter Emery)

No, Sir. My Department already has three offices in Scotland.

Dr. Mabon

Will the hon. Gentleman look at this afresh because, in addition to the arguments about the dispersal of Government offices and the fact that Scotland will be a substantial oil-producing European country in the not-too-distant future, there is an obvious dichotomy of view between his Department and the Scottish Office on the question of, for example, a White Paper on North Sea oil? Is it not high time that the Government recognised the importance of having a petroleum section in Scotland?

Mr. Emery

I immediately reject the concept that there is any dichotomy of view between the Scottish Office and the Department of Trade and Industry. I hope to be able to prove that slightly more substantially during the debate that will take place in, I think, the Scottish Grand Committee which I shall be attending tomorrow.

Mr. Wolrige-Gordon

Is my hon. Friend aware that the major oil companies are building large headquarters for their operations in the north-east of Scotland, employing between 200 and 300 people each? Is not there some need for the Government to balance this investment of resources?

Mr. Emery

Yes, Sir. It is important to realise, though, that the offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness are there specifically to assist. The offices at Edinburgh have a specific responsibility to help those oil interests that are in Scotland.

Mr. Russell Johnston

Is the hon. Gentleman saying, in response to the hon. Member for Greenock (Dr. Dickson Mabon), that in his view the existing situation is satisfactory? If that is what the hon. Gentleman is saying, I must tell him that that view is not accepted by many people in Scotland.

Mr. Emery

I am never satisfied with anything, I always want to improve it. If the hon. Gentleman will come to the Scottish Grand Committee, he will find that some things will be debated and announced there dealing with the situation in Scotland which will be helpful.

Mr. Benn

But is the hon. Gentleman aware that the problem is not just the interests of the oil industry in Scotland but Scottish interests in this matter and the need for a White Paper, so that the House and the country can get a full measure of the policy issues involved?

Mr. Emery

Not only am I aware of that: I spent a whole week touring Scotland dealing with this. As my hon. Friend the Minister for Industry has said, a publication will be brought forward dealing with the oil industry and the North Sea, both oil and gas, not only for Scotland but for the whole United Kingdom.

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