HC Deb 27 November 1972 vol 847 cc22-3
19. Mr. Nicholas Edwards

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what special arrangements he has set in motion to prepare Wales for the coming exploration for oil and gas in the Celtic Sea.

Mr. Peter Thomas

My officials have, at my request, already had wide ranging discussions with local authorities and other interested parties. I intend these discussions to continue and develop.

Mr. Edwards

While welcoming my right hon. and learned Friend's statement, may I ask whether he is aware that within the last few days a CBI report has joined me in urging the Welsh Office to form a special committee to oversee all matters of oil exploration in the Celtic Sea?

Mr. Thomas

Yes, I have received a copy of the report which is published today. It is a helpful contribution to an understanding of the opportunities and difficulties involved in oil and gas exploration. It is at the moment too early to think of creating a standing committee on the lines of the Scottish model suggested by the CBI. Officials of my Department have already visited Scotland to study the Scottish experience. I shall keep the matter under review and I certainly do not rule it out.

Mr. Cledwyn Hughes

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman satisfied that there are firms in Wales which are capable, if necessary, of manufacturing oil rigs and ancillary equipment?

Mr. Thomas

I should like to think that that is so, but this is a matter on which I would not like to give a definitive answer without notice.