§ 1. Mr. Strang
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a further statement on the progress made in implementing the recommendations of the IMEG report.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Mr. Peter Emery)
The Offshore Supplies Office has been established. It is pursuing a number of major initiatives and is currently dealing with about 200 inquiries a week from firms interested in the offshore market. It is taking effective and necessary action to ensure that British contractors receive a full and fair opportunity to secure off shore business.
§ Mr. Strang
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that any controversy in Scotland about North Sea oil developments relates only to the siting of such developments? The people of Scotland are absolutely united on the need to maximise the number of North Sea oil jobs. Is the hon. Gentleman further aware that it is felt that the Government's response to the IMEG report is both tardy and inadequate? For example, will the hon. Gentleman take the initiative and enable Scottish industry to acquire a major stake 3 in these developments and, in particular, to establish a new and indigenous technology for exploitation in deep waters?
§ Mr. William Hamilton
Has the attention of the Minister been drawn to the recent speech of the Chairman of the Scottish Tory Party, Sir William McEwan Younger, in which he strongly criticised the Government's current North Sea oil development policies? Will the Government take any notice of their own boss in Scotland?
§ Mr. Eadie
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Chairman of the Scottish Tory Party said that some Tory Members are unfamiliar with the industrial facts of life? Did not the hon. Gentle man hear him say that? Do the Government propose to ignore some of the main recommendations of the IMEG report? Is underwater technology to be left to the University Grants Committee? Must the University of Heriot-Watt, for example, suffer because the Department of Trade and Industry does not know the industrial facts of life in Scotland?
§ Mr. Emery
I do not accept the suggestion that the Department of Trade and Industry is not aware of the industrial position and the need for industrial expansion for offshore development in Scotland. I accept that there is a need for considerable thought on the develop- 4 ment of long-term technology for deep-water drilling. Full consideration is being given to that matter.
§ 4. Mr. Douglas
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on pending discussions between his Department and the British Petroleum Company regarding the price of North Sea crude oil and gas.
§ Mr. Douglas
Is it not time that such discussions took place, in view of the evidence given to the Public Accounts Committee by leading officials of the hon. Gentleman's Department? Will the Government take steps to ensure a firming-up of this company's oil refining capacity in Scotland, because it is urgently needed before the North Sea oil comes ashore in 1974?
§ Mr. Grimond
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that at this moment there is a proposal to build a refinery in Shetland which would have drastic effects on the life and economy of the islands, and that it is urgent that the terms and conditions on which such development may proceed should be laid down? The Shetland County Council Bill has been blocked, which means extra expenditure and delay. In the meantime, however, this type of development is in the air and there is grave need for an urgent decision about where the refinery should be put and on what terms and conditions.
§ Mr. Eadie
But if the hon. Gentleman should manage to get involved in the negotiations on the question of price, and so on, he may find that there is an attempt to ignore what one might describe as "energy potential ". Will he comment on the allegations that every thing seems to be cent red on oil exploration and that it is nearly a crime to find gas?