HC Deb 09 April 1973 vol 854 cc929-30
23. Mr. Eadie

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will now consider the formation of a petroleum development board based on Scotland.

Mr. Anthony Grant

No, Sir. A Scottish Petroleum Office is being set up in Glasgow through which the new Offshore Supplies Office will discharge its responsibilities in Scotland.

Mr. Eadie

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there is not one Scottish newspaper that is not critical of the Government's policy over North Sea oil? This has been sparked off by the bleatings of the Government's child, the Offshore Supplies Office, a leading official of which made a statement which should not have been made. Does not the hon. Gentleman think that it is now time that the Government had another look at the IMEG report which dealt with the setting up of a petroleum development board? Is he not satisfied that we need more than an offshore supply office and that we need to participate more in the finding and so on of oil?

Mr. Grant

With respect, I do not accept that. Nor do I accept that the Scottish newspapers are wholly in disagreement. The reason for the policy we took was that speed was of the essence and it was considered that one would get the necessary development far more quickly by operating through the Industrial Development Executive than by going through the process, which possibly would have required legislation, of having a separate board.

Mr. Douglas

How many members of the trade delegation from China are visiting London at present? Will the hon. Gentleman compare the visits which they will make to Scotland with a view to getting for this country orders from China for offshore supplies?

Mr. Grant

I could not give the figures without notice, but I believe that there should be increasing international interest in the opportunities for offshore equipment sales as a result of North Sea oil.

Mr. Edward Short

Why is one of the supply offices being based in London? Why is there not to be one in the North East?

Mr. Grant

As the White Paper explained, North Sea oil activity is, for geographical reasons, of greater concern to Scotland than to the North East, but we have recognised the interests of the North East by having an expert placed in our north-eastern office.