HC Deb 21 May 1974 vol 874 cc177-8
16. Mr. Jessel

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he is satisfied with the arrangements for defending North Sea oil rigs.

Mr. Judd

Yes, Sir. I would, however, refer the hon. Member to my reply on 9th April 1974 to the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond).—[Vol. 872, c. 81.]

Mr. Jessel

Will the hon. Gentleman comment on the strategic aspect? Are there not great dangers in our becoming too dependent for our national economy on the supply of oil from the North Sea when the rigs are obviously vulnerable to air or sea attack, especially in the light of the expansion of the Soviet Navy? Is there not also a risk of sabotage or blackmail by extremist organisations?

Mr. Judd

I am sure that the House is interested in the hon. Gentleman's observations. However, he will appreciate that it would not be in the public interest to give details of our assessment of the military or the terrorist threat.

Mr. Gordon Wilson

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that a Scottish Government would be prepared to take away from the Secretary of State any problems that he might face in defending these oil rigs?

Mr. Judd

The House always notes with interest the views of minorities in its midst.

Mr. Buck

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the Royal Naval Reserve very likely has a part to play here? When will he be able to tell us the results of the report, initiated by the previous administration, on the role of the Royal Naval Reserve?

Mr. Judd

The review initiated by the hon. and learned Gentleman into the reserves is proceeding apace. 1 shall naturally inform the House of the results as soon as possible. The hon. and learned Gentleman may be glad to know that I recently had a very happy day at sea with the reserves.

Mr. Younger

Will the hon. Gentleman note that the vast majority of people in Scotland are extremely proud of their contribution to the Royal Navy and would rather have the oil defended by the Royal Navy than by anyone else?

Mr. Judd

I note what the hon. Gentleman has said. I know that the Royal Navy is grateful for the stalwart assistance given by the Scottish people to its work.