§ 26. Mr. Skeet
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when the Government propose to issue their proposals for anew energy policy in substitution of the proposals outlined in Command Paper No. 3438 of 13th November, 1967.
§ Mr. John Davies
Energy questions are kept under regular review but there is at present no intention of publishing proposals on the subject.
§ Mr. Skeet
It would seem that the Department is dragging its feet on this. Will the Minister bear in mind that our imminent entry into Europe, the nationalisation of British assets abroad such as IPC and other important factors make it necessary to have an urgent review and to introduce new proposals which would replace the 1967 White Paper?
§ Mr. Davies
As I said in my Answer, the matter is under constant review. The events to which my hon. Friend refers underline how difficult it is to fix any long-term policy which is sustainable in the light of the many changes which are constantly occurring in this area.
§ Mr. Varley
In view of the uncertainty overshadowing both the price and the supply of overseas oil and the fast deteriorating balance of payments situation, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman, if he comes forward with proposals suggested in his hon. Friend's question, whether he will make sure that they are based on the maximum practical use of indigenous fuels?
§ Mr. Davies
Of course I will take very fully into account the advantages of indigenous fuels in terms both of their security and of their contribution to the balance of payments situation. These are important matters in the continuous con- 22 sideration of these problems which is going on.
§ Mr. Eadie
Since the right hon. Gentleman told the House on 11th March that natural gas would last for only 20 years and that we could never hope to have even our present capacity of oil, would the right hon. Gentleman agree that this means that we should examine our energy policy and that there should be new coal sinkings to give us more self-sufficiency?
§ Mr. Davies
I should like to reaffirm what I said in reply to these questions. The matter is under continuous and constant review in the light of the changing circumstances. I should also like to sound a note of caution over the hon. Gentleman's ready assumption that we have only 20 years' supply of natural gas. This was not precisely what I said. These are the present levels of estimates of reserves.