HC Deb 17 June 1974 vol 875 cc8-9
6. Mr. Biffen

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will seek an early meeting with M. Spaak, EEC Director of Energy.

Mr. Varley

I have no plans to meet M. Spaak, but I recently had discussions with M. Simonet, the EEC commissioner responsible for energy matters.

Mr. Biffen

In that discussion did the right hon. Gentleman point out to M. Simonet that M. Spaak, in his speech at the Financial Times conference in New York last April, made claims for Community control of North Sea oil which would be wholly unacceptable to a wide range of political opinion in this country, whether or not one is in favour of fundamental renegotiation? Did he also inquire of M. Simonet exactly what he meant when he said that United Kingdom regulations to control the export of oil would be in breach of EEC Treaty obligations?

Mr. Varley

Many interesting proposals are coming from the Commission on energy policy. M. Spaak's speech was about European energy policy, on which the Commission has drafted proposals which we have discussed. These proposals will be considered further and will no doubt come up in Brussels, with the Council of Ministers, in due course.

Mr. Marten

If the European Community proposed that North Sea oil, which is British, should become the property of the Community, and if there were majority voting, the majority would clearly vote for the oil to become Community property. Therefore, is this not a very good example illustrating that we should hang on to the Luxembourg Agreement and have the ability to use the veto at all times?

Mr. Varley

We certainly have the ability to use the veto, but it is my firm intention, and that of the Government, to make sure that British interests are properly safeguarded in these discussions.