HC Deb 17 June 1974 vol 875 cc9-10
7. Mr. MacFarlane

asked the Secretary of State for Energy how many oil refineries are currently under construction in the United Kingdom; and how many more are planned between 1975 and 1980.

Mr. Varley

One refinery is under construction. I am aware of five others being planned, of which one has been given outline planning permission, and the rest are under consideration.

Mr. MacFarlane

I thank the Minister for that reply. Is he satisfied with the number of refineries planned between now and the end of this decade, and will he confirm that capacity for this decade has been assessed correctly, with special reference to the exporting of middle distillates which is essential to the future of this country?

Mr. Varley

Within the Department we are reviewing refinery policy and we hope to be able to make a report about that review in due course.

Mr. Harry Ewing

Bearing in mind the review of refinery policy, is it the Gov ernment's intention to develop the refining capacity of this country beyond the domestic requirement, or to develop it only up to that requirement? What are my right hon. Friend's plans for additional refining capacity in Scotland?

Mr. Varley

I have already said that we are looking critically at this matter. I want to make sure that Britain has the refining capacity that it needs. With regard to Scotland, my Department is in close touch with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland, who, as my hon. Friend knows, has planning responsibilities in that country.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that a refinery may now cost the taxpayer tens of millions of pounds in investment grants, for an absolutely derisory number of jobs created? Will he consider the matter carefully and ensure that public funds are not wasted in this manner again?

Mr. Varley

I am not sure that I can accept the hon. Gentleman's comments about investment grants. The previous Conservative administration stopped investment grants, but reintroduced them in 1972. It is our intention to continue providing investment grants in the weaker economic regions.